The World of Montessori Education celebrates a very special day on the August 31 (Today) - the 150th
Dr Maria Montessori
birthday of beloved Dr Montessori.
In 1906 as a young Dr she experimented with different methods, working with very young children. This was the first House of Children opened in Rome, The “Casa Dei Bambini”.
Her work grew from strength to strength until her educational reforms and practices became accepted by the world. Today it is a privilege to be able to send our children to a Montessori House of Children to experience the teaching methods founded, tried and tested by Dr Montessori.
Born in 1870 in Chiaravalle , Italy Maria grew up engulfed in the love of her parents. Renilde Stoppani was considered well educated for her time and was a kind of mentor to Maria’s encouraging her in all her endeavours.
In today’s world, we can call Dr Montessori one who “broke the glass ceiling”.
At the age of 13, Maria enrolled in an “All Boys” school to study technical subjects in the hope of becoming an Engineer.
"For five years Dr Maria Montessori worked with children who had delayed cognitive development. In 1897 Dr Montessori asked that teachers be given special training when she spoke at the First Pedagogical Conference in Turin"
She met with opposition from all sides including her father Alessandro who was one in thought with everyone else that girls should stay at home becoming a homemaker. Maria graduated at the age of 20 with a certificate in Physics and Mathematics. At this point, she decides to pursue medical studies and become a doctor.
She was met with disapproval by society. This did not deter Maria who forged ahead in the face of opposition studying Natural Sciences at the University of Rome. Earning her “Diploma Di Licenza” in 1893, together with her studies of Italian and Latin she was able to gain admission to study medicine.
During her medical studies, she was met with hostility and harassment. Maria forged through and won an academic prize in her first year gaining a place as a hospital assistant. In her last two years, she studied Paediatrics, probably bringing out the love for the child in her later years. Maria passed out as a Dr of Medicine in 1896 and her thesis was published in the “Policlinico” in 1897.
For five years Dr Maria Montessori worked with children who had delayed cognitive development. In 1897 Dr Montessori asked that teachers be given special training when she spoke at the First Pedagogical Conference in Turin.
1906 was a breakthrough for Dr Montessori when she was asked to oversee the care and education of a group of children belonging to working parents who lived in a new apartment block in San Lorenzo.
The first “Casa Dei Bambini” began on January 6, 1906, with 50 - 60 children aged between 2 to 3 years and 6 - 7 years.
Dr Montessori was eager to begin working with children putting into practice all her research and see for herself the fruits of her labour. In this first classroom, Dr Montessori noticed and took note of the behaviour of the children, which formed the foundation of the Montessori Method of education.
Montessori being welcomed by the children of the Kotahena Montessori when she was in Sri Lanka in 1948. Also in the picture are Mario and Renilde being presented with flowers by a lttle child
She noticed the pureness of children’s work and they revealed to her the “Secrets Of Childhood” She noticed deep attention to the task the child was doing, a sense of order and love and care of the environment, spontaneous reaching out to others to help and the urge to repeat activities.
She also realised that the children were drawn to the Montessori material when given a free choice. Dr Montessori over time discovered that these young children were self-disciplined too.
Based on her observations Dr Montessori implemented certain practices that became a standard in her teaching methods. She replaced heavy traditional school furniture with a child-size, lightweight tables and chairs and the materials were displayed on low accessible shelves giving the child freedom of choice and building independence too.
Dr Montessori believed that all children are individuals and should be guided to develop at their own pace excelling in their strengths and overcoming weaknesses. In her observations, she realised that the child can work on his own and the role of teacher or Montessori adult should be an observer and director of the children’s psychological development.
The first teacher training course was started in 1909 in Italy and continues to this day in many Training Centres around the globe. Dr Montessori herself was personally lecturing and conducting the Montessori workshops for many years travelling the world.
"Maria Montessori visited Sri Lanka in 1944 where she bestowed the legacy of the Montessori Method of teaching to the Good Shepherd Sisters. True to Montessori, The Maria Montessori Training Centre at St. Bridget’s Convent continues the Montessori Method of Education, training teachers and having Houses of Children, and has been doing so for the past 75 years"
Maria Montessori visited Sri Lanka in 1944 where she bestowed the legacy of the Montessori Method of teaching to the Good Shepherd Sisters. True to Montessori, The Maria Montessori Training Centre at St. Bridget’s Convent continues the Montessori Method of Education, training teachers and having Houses of Children, and has been doing so for the past 75 years.
Dr Montessori spoke of peace and education a topic of relevance in today’s world. Dr Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was a great educator who had the child at heart.
Many countries have honoured Dr Montessori by minting coins in her honour and printing stamps to mark milestones of the Montessori movement. This year a Two Euro coin has been minted to celebrate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Dr Maria Montessori and Time Magazine has honoured Dr Maria Montessori as one of the top 100 Women of the year 2020.
The great educator entered her heavenly abode on May 6, 1952, leaving a legacy that generations will look up to years to come.