Maria Montessori was, in many ways, ahead of her time. Born in the town of Chiaravalle, in the province of Ancona, Italy, in 1870, she became the first female physician in Italy upon her graduation from medical school in 1896. In her medical practice, her clinical observations led her to analyse how children learn, how they build themselves from what they find in their immediate environment.
In 1906, she accepted the challenge to work with a group of sixty children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. It was there that she founded the first Casa dei Bambini or “Children’s House”. What ultimately became the Montessori method of education developed there, based upon Montessori’s scientific observations of these children’s almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every method Montessori developed was based on what she observed children do “naturally,” by themselves, with guidance, but not interference from adults.
Children teach themselves. This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori’s lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training – all based on her dedication to furthering the self-creating process of the child.
Maria Montessori died in Noordwijk, Holland, in 1952, but her work continues. Today there are thousands of private hundreds of public Montessori schools in the United States.
Montessori schools exist around the world, in Canada, China, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, Korea, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England, France, Wales, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Colombia, India, Nigeria and many other countries.