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Dr. Maria Montessori - The Woman Behind The Name

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952) was the founder of the Montessori Pedagogy.

“It is not true,” says Dr. Montessori, “that I invented what is called the Montessori Method. I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.”

Some facts about Dr. Maria Montessori:

  • One of Italy's first female doctors

  • Started working with mentally disabled children, who quickly learned to read and write as well as their peers

  • Gave lectures and taught students at the school of Pedagogy in Rome in 1904-1908

  • Started the first Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) in 1907

  • Started training teachers in her methods in 1909

  • Had to flee from Italy because she refused to work for/with the Fascist Party and Mussolini in 1936

  • After touring several countries, she settled down in India with her son, Mario in 1939

  • Nominated for 3 Nobel peace prizes

  • Feminist and peace educator

Core principles of the Montessori Method

The Montessori method is based on Dr. Maria Montessori's work with children and tested and tried for over a hundred years. All studies shows that the Montessori method works well for all children, and that it can even remove the education gap between wealthy and poor families. For more information on studies and the science behind the Montessori approach, please look here.

Some core aspects of the pedagogy are:

  • Respect: children are shown respect.

  • Children (only applies to 0 - 6 year olds) have what Montessori referred to as an absorbent mind. By this she meant that they don't need to work hard to learn something, they absorb it through observing. Learning is always occuring.

  • Sensitive periods: a time in a person's life when it is easier to learn a specific skill

  • A prepared environment: the environment should be set up for the child. In schools, that means child size furniture; but at home you may also use step stools or similar so the child can reach counter tops, sink, toilet etc. All materials are set out in a beautiful manner with the child in mind. The environment should have everything the child needs at their level and support independence.

  • Children have a desire to learn. Dr. Montessori reffered to this as horme, that which gives a child a drive to explore materials, motivation and energy to learn.

The pedagogy that Montessori developed through her observations are also ones you can successfully incorporate at home. In fact, Dr. Montessori modelled her classrooms on the home and incorporated many life skills into the teaching activities available to children.

Why should a parent consider implementing Montessori principles at home? There are many many reasons, but the biggest is that it's a great way to consciously develop your child's interest and ability to learn about the world around them through meaningful work/play. By preparing your home environment, you can help encourage your child's natural curiosity and ability to learn for years to come.

Here is a great book about Maria Montessori for children: Maria Montessori (Little People, Big Dreams) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Recommended reading for adults:

The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori

The 1945 London Lectures by Maria Montessori

The Child in the Family by Maria Montessori

Co-authored and edited by Mie Mari Sløk Rusdal and Jude Saffron

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