The Great Dr. Maria Montessori

The success of Dr. Montessori sparked a movement that changed the world completely. Her educational method of having children learn naturally versus the custom forceful way of teaching not only gained recognition throughout education, but it started an evolution throughout the world!

But before this revolution began, Maria Montessori was just a girl born on August 31, 1870, in a small city in Italy called Chiaravalle. 

Maria Montessori always showed signs of confidence, ambitiousness, and an unwilling nature to revolutionize the norm. As a child, she would naturally resist the traditional expectations put on women anywhere she went. At the tender age of 13, she entered an all-boys technical institute to prepare for a career in engineering.

However, after a change of heart, she soon found out that she could better impact humanity by becoming a doctor. Maria Montessori decided to ditch her engineering career and applied to the University of Rome’s medical program, but was disgracefully rejected. This rejection only fueled her to pursue this career even harder. Maria took additional courses to better prepare her for entrance to the medical school and persevered! Eventually, after much work, she was granted admittance into the University! Her gaining entrance into this top University opened the door for women all over the nation to follow in her footsteps!

After graduating from medical school in 1896 at the age of 26, Maria was Italy’s first female physician, among only a few others. 

Initially, Maria’s medical practice focused primarily on psychiatry. This then led her to an interest in education, attending classes on pedagogy and immersing herself in educational theory.  While teaching at her medical school alma-mater, Maria treated many poor and working-class children who attended the free clinics there. She gained insight with each interaction she faced and noticed that intrinsic intelligence was present in children of all socio-economic backgrounds but it wasn’t being fully reached. This ignited her to figure out a way to help these children fulfill their potential!

The opportunity to improve on these methods came in 1900 when she was appointed co-director of a new training institute for special education students. Maria approached the task scientifically, carefully observing and experimenting to learn which teaching methods worked best. Many of the children made unexpected gains, and the program was considered a huge success!

Following this success, the Italian government afforded her the opportunity to test her teaching methods on “normal” children. In 1907, Maria was placed in charge of 60 students from the slums, ranging in age from 1 to 6.  This center, the first of it’s kind in the nation, and a high-quality learning environment, became the first Casa dei Bambini (or “Children’s House).

The children were unruly at first, but that soon changed once Maria Montessori gained their interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare meals, and manipulating learning materials she has designed herself. 

To the surprise of many, the children in Maria’s programs thrived, exhibiting concentration, attention, and spontaneous self-discipline. The “Montessori Evolution” was then sparked and educators from all over Europe & the United States traveled to meet her! From this point forward this method of teaching was adopted and has continued to work until today!

And the rest was history!

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