The Montessori Method | Who was Maria Montessori?

What is Education? Is it a program of performances that are institutionally accepted, or a collection of interactions that are self-directed? Maria Montessori spent her entire childhood absorbing those concerns. Montessori, born in 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, displayed a clear independent will even as a child. She told her parents as a child that she wanted to pursue architecture, a role that was commonly considered to be unladylike. She had changed her mind by the age of 20 and wanted to follow a far less conventional path medicine. While enduring humiliation and alienation, medical studies at the University of Rome were completed by Montessori and she became one of Italy's first female doctor.

Although psychology was the emphasis of Montessori's practice, her concerns gravitated towards education. She was appointed co-director of the Scuola Magistrale Ortofrenica, a special education teachers' training institute, in 1900. Montessori argued that in order for so-called "deficient" children to succeed, the regimentation they experienced in schools required appreciation and stimulation rather than .

Maria opened the Casa dei Bambini, or Children's Home, in 1907, a daycare center for disadvantaged children in which she was able to test her hypothesis that the brains of children each develop according to their own timetable. Instead of offering a structured course of study, she developed a program for each boy. Many previously violent and unmanageable children have become more socially healthy and self-directed while acquiring essential academic and life skills. She quickly started to spread news of her success with the Casa dei Bambini worldwide, and her techniques for child-centered education became widely accepted across Europe.

Montessori schools were seen as a solution to the educational challenges associated with rapid urban population development across Europe in the 25 years since their establishment.

So, as fascism started to proliferate through Spain, Italy, and Germany in the 1930s, child-centered education became seen as a danger to the state's influence. In 1933, all Montessori schools were closed by the authoritarian governments in Italy and Germany, calling them rebellious and weakening their control.

Also beyond Europe, the reaction to Montessori's thoughts was fragmented. Many distinguished authors, inventors, and politicians, including Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, and Woodrow Wilson, enthusiastically accepted her ideas. But William H. Kirkpatrick, a pioneering curriculum reformer and lecturer at Teachers College, Columbia University, criticized her ideas. The psychological ideas of Montessori were declared wildly out-of-date in his 1914 book, The Montessori Method Investigated.

It was not until 1958 that her techniques were restored and revised in the United States by a new wave of Montessorians.In 1958, the first American Montessori school, the Whitby School, was founded in Greenwich, where it thrives today.

The Montessori Method -

1) The Montessori Approach is defined by having an atmosphere that is prepared: clean, pleasing in nature, clear and actual, where each aspect appears for a reason to support the child's development. A Montessori classroom involves children of mixed ages who are divided into three-year cycles. This inevitably fosters socialization, respect and unity between them.

2) Children engage with scientifically-designed concrete materials that provide them with the keys to discovering our environment and learning fundamental cognitive ability. The materials are meant to allow the child to realize the mistake and become responsible for his or her own learning.

3) The adult is an observer and a guide: with all his effort, he/she supports and stimulates the child. This makes it easier for children to act, want and reason on their own, and allows them to develop faith and inner discipline.

Montessori schooling spans all school periods, from birth to 18 years of age, including an integrated curriculum.

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