On August 31st 1870, in a time before women's rights and civil liberties were established in Italy, Maria Montessori was born to Renilde and Alessandro Montessori. By the end of her secondary school education, her parents were encouraging her to become a teacher, but those were not the dreams Montessori held for herself. Eventually, Italian native Maria Montessori made history and became the first female to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School in 1896.
Her last 2 years of study included pediatrics and psychology. This led to a shift in her interests and after graduation, while owning a private practice, she volunteered at the university's psychiatric clinic. While volunteering she became curious about children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She began working with these children and observed that they needed concrete, hands-on materials to develop cognitively. This allowed them to learn more effectively, and not only pass the national standardized examinations held by the government for normal children, but, in some cases these children excelled and scored higher than average.
This was a revelation for Dr. Montessori which made her wonder what would happen if normal children were given the same opportunity. This idea led her to give up her medical practice and work with the disadvantaged children in San Lorenzo - an impoverished district of Rome. Here, the first "Casa dei Bambini", meaning "Children's House ", was born in 1907.
Along with some Sensorial materials she had previously found beneficial to children, Maria Montessori began observing and creating more materials. These materials stimulated the children's natural desire to learn, and are still used in her schools today in the areas of Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and Culture.
After leaving Italy during the Second World War, she travelled to many countries training teachers. She opened a training center in the Netherlands in 1938, and founded a series of teacher training courses in India in 1939. She trained the teachers to take a more gentle approach which allowed children to cultivate their natural desire to learn and develop independence and self-discipline.
Maria Montessori has been recognized by the world’s academic community for contributions to philosophy, child psychology, and children’s education through her six nominations for the Nobel Prize. She was first nominated in 1949, and continued to be nominated for the prize for the three consecutive years until her death in 1952.
Dr. Montessori’s work with children is continued through the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), an organization she founded in 1929 in Amsterdam, Netherlands to uphold her pedagogy. Today after 100 years of international application, the Montessori method thrives in more than 80 countries.
Montessori's beliefs permeate through her schools. The peaceful unfolding of self, and the prepared classroom environment, along with well-trained teachers provide the opportunities for children to work and achieve their full potential.
Dr. Maria Montessori was in many ways ahead of her time. She remains, to this day, the most successful and innovative person ever to develop a child centric teaching method.
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Biography of Maria Montessori