Born in Chiaravalle in the Province of Ancona in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first lady doctor in Italy, having graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Rome in 1896. Through her medical practice, Dr. Montessori came in direct contact with young children and began to study their development. Her intensive study led her to realize that the interaction between the child and his environment led to the construction of the child’s personality.
Her approach to education originated from her own background in the sciences, and her thoroughness of study based on an observation of children from different backgrounds in several countries around the world led her to spot the universality of the laws of human development.
The Montessori Approach
- Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who differ from each other.
- The child possesses an unusual sensitivity and intellectual ability, unlike those of the adult, to absorb and learn from his environment, both in quality and quantity.
- The first six years of a child are the most important years of a child's growth when unconscious learning gradually emerges to the conscious level.
Method and Goals
Initiative and persistence:
Since her death, an interest in Dr. Montessori's methods have continued to spread throughout the world. Her message to those who emulated her was always to turn one's attention to the child, to "follow the child". It is because of this basic tenet, and the observation guidelines left by her, that Dr. Montessori's ideas will never become obsolete.
Many people, hearing of the high academic level reached by students in this system of education, miss the point and think that Montessori math manipulatives (as an example) is all there is to the Montessori method. It is easy to acquire materials and to take short courses to learn to use them, but the real value of Montessori takes long and thorough training for the adult.