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Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first woman to receive a medical degree in Italy. Her first appointment after medical school was with the Psychiatric Clinic in Rome. As a physician, Dr. Montessori worked with young children and became profoundly interested in their development. Through careful and exhaustive scrutiny, she realised that children construct their own personalities as they interact with their environment.

In 1907, Dr. Montessori was able to use her methods with children in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. She opened the first ‘Casa dei Bambini’ or Children’s House there and was able to apply her ideas with great success. She saw that children of her group, aged 3-6 years were motivated to work independently, could concentrate for long periods of time if left uninterrupted and were hungry to learn about the world around them. She saw that when they were able to freely respond to their own developmental needs in a secure environment, the children became calm and purposeful. She coined the term “normalization” to describe this phenomenon, saying that the true, normal nature of the child was to be peacefully productive.  She set aside practicing medicine and dedicated her life’s work to studying, expanding and presenting her methodology.

In 1929, Dr. Montessori founded Association Montessori Internationale to maintain the integrity of her life’s work, and to ensure that it would be perpetuated after her death.

Montessori Approach

The Montessori approach offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. It is designed to help children with their task of inner construction as they grow from childhood to maturity. It succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. Its flexibility provides a matrix within which each individual child’s inner directives freely guide the child toward wholesome growth.

Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural tendency to work. Children’s innate passion for learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration and joyful self-discipline. Within a framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities.

Some Montessori children you might know:

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Founders of Google.com

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com

Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia

Katharine Graham, Owner/editor of the Washington Post

Julia Child, Famous chef and author

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Editor & Former U.S. First Lady

Anne Frank, Famous Diarist from World War II

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature

Will Wright,  Creator of “The Sims” video game

Prince William and Prince Harry, English Royal Family