About Maria Montessori

Born in Chiaravalle in the Province of Ancona, Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first woman to practice medicine in Italy, having graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Rome in 1896. As a physician, Dr. Montessori was in touch with young children and became profoundly interested in their development. Through careful and exhaustive scrutiny, she realized that children construct their own personalities as they interact with their environment. She also observed the manner in which they learned as they spontaneously chose and worked with the auto didactic materials she provided.

Her approach to education stemmed from a solid grounding in biology, psychiatry and anthropology. She studied children of all races and cultures in many countries around the world, soon seeing the universality of the laws of human development played out before her.

Montessori opened her first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) in one of the poorest areas of Rome. The initially meager and frightened children were soon transformed, and their “souls revealed themselves with such radiance as to spread a light through the whole world.” Montessori began training teachers from many different countries in these scientific-based methods that developed into an educational philosophy.

Unfortunately, over the years, Montessori methods have been “appropriated…misinterpreted, exploited…torn to shreds and the shreds magnified into systems…used, abused…and undergone multiple renaissances.” True Montessori establishments understand that her pedagogy is not a program for teachers to apply but a philosophy that dictates the children hold the key to their own growth and transformation.

Maria Montessori was a scientist, and, as a good scientist, she was earth-bound and highly spiritual in her pursuit of truth. She continued her observations throughout her life, widening and deepening her understanding until her death in 1952.

The above information is extracted or paraphrased from the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) website, montessori-ami.org.