Who was Maria Montessori? Maria Montessori (1870-1952) began her career as a physician. In fact, she was the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy! Her astute observations of children and her dissatisfaction with the Italian educational system moved her to accept a position as Directress of Education for a group of indigent children in Rome. She created a method of education based on the developmental needs of children. Movement, hands-on exploration, independent choices as well as adult respect for the child were hallmarks of her program. Her classroom environment, designed with child-sized furniture, encouraged self-discovery. Dr. Montessori trusted that children would intuitively choose work in accordance with their needs. Her first school, Casa de Bambini, was lauded around the world. Visitors were astonished by the work ethic, self-discipline, social etiquette, and spiritual calm of the children. As countries around the world began to adopt this method of education, Dr. Montessori believed the qualities of the children being observed by the visitors of her classroom would ultimately reform humanity and result in a world of peace and harmony. Montessori left her hope of peace through education as her lasting legacy.
What is Montessori Teaching?
Over the years, there have been many attempts to redefine “excellence” in education. At the core of these efforts are two common themes for learners: more choice and more responsibility. In the progressive Montessori classroom, these themes come to life! Montessori teaching and learning are active, integrated, thematic, democratic, collaborative, holistic...and fun!
Everywhere you look in a Montessori classroom, you will see children busily learning by choice and engaged in things that interest them. Many opportunities present themselves in this environment. Lessons are revisited until concepts are fully understood. Stimulating, self-correcting materials guide children to be accountable for their own learning. Teachers facilitate the development of skills necessary for functioning in today’s fast-paced world including independence, self-discipline, and critical thinking.