Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, philosopher, and humanitarian. Dr. Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School, becoming the first female doctor in Italy. Her main contributions to the work of raising and educating children are in the following areas:
- Preparing the most natural and life-supporting environments for the child.
- Observing the child living freely in this environment.
- Continually adapting the environment in order that the child may fulfill his or her greatest potential, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed, “Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.”
She was focused on teaching the student’s ways to develop their own skills at a pace they set, a principle Montessori called “spontaneous self-development”. A wide variety of materials which increase in complexity is used to help direct the interests of the child and haste development.
During World War II, Dr. Montessori developed many of the ideas taught in training courses today. She was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Maria Montessori died in the Netherlands in 1952, after a lifetime devoted to the study of child development. Her early work centered on women’s rights and social reform and evolved to encompass a totally innovative approach to education. Her success in Italy led to international recognition, and for over 40 years she traveled all over the world, lecturing, writing and establishing training programs.
Since her death, an interest in Dr. Montessori’s methods have continued to spread throughout the world. Her message to educators and parents has been to turn one’s attention to the child, to “follow the child”. It is because of this basic principle, and the observation guidelines left by her, that Dr. Montessori’s ideas have carried on.