Dr. Maria Montessori Develops a New Method of Teaching
The Montessori Method Springs Out of Observation
In 1907, a young physician, Dr. Maria Montessori, opened a small school in Rome’s inner city. It was called “Casa de Bambini,” or Children’s House. The school was unlike anything that had existed previously. It was a bold move. It was based on a daring idea. It was formulated through observing hundreds of children.
It was simply this: Children teach themselves.
Dr. Montessori expanded her audacious idea into a universal vision. Coupled with a carefully crafted classroom approach informed by her beliefs, she developed an educational method that is now celebrated around the world.
Dr. Montessori was a visionary, a woman who led an extraordinary life.
As the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome School of Medicine, she gained recognition at a young age for her work in math and the established sciences. She also pursued study in the newer disciplines of the day, anthropology and psychiatry, two areas of interest that would be of great value to her in her work as a physician and scientist.
Her approach to education was developed based on her observations, in conjunction with her background in psychology and her belief that the education of children was the means to create a better society. She observed children around the world and found that the laws of development she had recognized in Italy were universal and inherent in children of all races and cultures. The Montessori approach to education continues to be respected and practiced internationally today.
To be a woman actively practicing medicine in Italy in 1896 was a remarkable enough achievement to bring public acclaim and notoriety. Yet, it was Dr. Montessori’s gift to children—her gift of truly seeing, understanding and respecting children—that led to her greatest accomplishment: the development of a unique and effective approach to the education of children.
Dr. Montessori’s success in Italy led to international recognition. For over 40 years, she traveled the world lecturing, writing and establishing training programs. In later years, “Education and Peace” became a guiding principle that underpinned her work. Dr. Montessori died in the Netherlands in 1952 after a lifetime devoted to the study of child development. Her approach remains as powerful, inventive and child-responsive today as it was in 1907 when she opened her first school.