An Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870 and was best known for introducing the Montessori method of education. At an early age, she enrolled in classes at an all-boys technical school, with hopes of becoming an engineer. Montessori began studying engineering but soon had a change of heart and enrolled in a medical school at the University of Rome from where she graduated with honours in medicine in 1896.
Her educational method – the Montessori method, is still prevalent in many schools across the world. It is a child-centred educational approach based on scientific observations of children. She was placed in charge of the Casa dei Bambini school. By 1925, more than 1,000 Montessori schools had opened in the United States. Although by 1940, the Montessori movement had faded, it was revived later, in the 1960s. During World War II, Montessori developed Education for Peace in India and earned two Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
Montessori became the director of the Orthophrenic School for developmentally disabled children in 1900. Her success with disabled children propelled her to test her teaching methods on “normal” children. In 1907, the Italian government placed her in charge of 60 students from the slums, ranging from 1 to 6 years of age.
The school, called Casa dei Bambini, enabled Montessori to create the “prepared learning” environment she believed was conducive to sense learning and creative exploration. Teachers were encouraged to allow children to take the lead. Montessori tweaked her methods through trial and error and her writings further served to spread her ideology throughout Europe and the United States.
She died on May 6, 1952, in Netherlands. Following her death, during the 1960s, the world witnessed a resurgence in Montessori schools, led by Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch. Her teaching methods still continue to followed many where across the world.International, News