What is Montessori Education?
Montessori education is based upon the work of lifelong educator and physician, Dr. Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method of education is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori's Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world and is not entirely different from traditional-style education. The content is typically the same but, as outlined below, it is the teaching methods which make it different.
Maria Montessori is the founder of the Montessori philosophy and teaching method. She was born in Italy in 1870 and lived until 1952. She was an accomplished woman who was trained initially as a physician. In 1904, she became a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome. She founded schools, developed teacher training institutes and courses around the world and was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize three times, in 1949, 1950 and 1951.
Montessori’s passion for helping children learn came to her through clinical observations and additional studies in the areas of psychology and philosophy. Maria Montessori concluded that children learn effortlessly during “sensitive periods” and, in the right environment, have the potential to essentially teach themselves.
Montessori left medicine and academia to pursue this passion for the way children learn. In 1906, in Rome, she opened her first school called Casa Dei Bambini, or “Children’s House.”
Montessori was highly regarded in America by a number of well- known citizens in the first quarter of the twentieth century: Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Margaret Wilson, daughter of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, were among her many supporters.
When she died in 1952 in the Netherlands, she had firmly established the Montessori educational philosophy and a number of teacher training institutes. Her legacy now lives on in over 8,000 Montessori schools around the world.