Dr. Maria Montessori Biography
Born in 1870 in Acona, Italy, Maria Montessori grew up in a country that was very conservative in its attitude toward women; yet even against the considerable opposition of her father and teachers, Maria Montessori pursued a scientific education. She became the first woman physician in Italy. As a physician, Dr. Montessori specialized in pediatrics and psychiatry. Her first experience was working at the University of Rome in a free clinic for working class and poor families.
Early in her career she became a proponent for the women’s movement, peace effort, and child labor law reform. She accepted speaking engagements throughout Europe. Later in her career she became a delegate to the United Nations.
In 1901 she was appointed Director of the new orthophrenic school for “mentally deficient” children at the University of Rome. She recognized through scientific observation and research that these children needed stimulation, purposeful activity, and self-esteem.
During this time, Dr. Montessori studies with Dr. Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin. Itard’s theory of sensitive periods or stages in the development of the child appealed to Montessori. She used this theory and successfully applied it to her “deficient” students in Rome, so that they were able to pass the standardized 6th grade test for the Italian public schools. In 1907 she opened her first preschool for young children of working class parents. She called it “Casa dei Bambini” or Children’s House”.
She introduced the children to a variety of different materials that she used at the University of Rome, plus encouraged independence, grace and courtesy, and practical skills. Through this process, the children developed self-respect, self-discipline, and love of learning.
This is where Montessori education began and continues with your children at Pincushion Hill Montessori School. In January of 2007, Dr. Montessori’s method celebrated its centennial anniversary.
Anyone who wants to follow my method should not honor me but follow the child as his leader.-Maria Montessori, 1912
The Montessori Method of education engages the child’s heart, mind, hand, and spirit in a thoughtful and purposeful way. The materials and lessons are designed to empower children to direct their own education and develop a sense of independence and competency. The classroom environment provides a safe and comfortable place for children to work and learn. As children progress and master the topics at their own pace, they also develop a joy of learning and critical thinking that carries through into adulthood.
Dr. Montessori designed this educational model to reflect her research on human development that she observed in children.
She observed that:
- Children and developing young adults engage in psychological self-construction by means of interaction with their environments.
- Children have an innate path of psychological development and are self-motivated to learn.
- Children at liberty to choose and move freely within a prepared environment act spontaneously to optimize their development.