Dr. Maria Montessori - Education and Philosophy

Dr. Maria Montessori's educational method was first introduced in Rome, Italy in 1907.  There are more than 5,500 operational Montessori preschools worldwide.  Montessori's philosophy of early childhood education is practiced by many teachers, parents, and administrators worldwide. 

A profound respect for the child is at the forefront of Dr. Montessori's philosophy.  The child is freed from the preponderant influence of the adult in its daily classroom activity, encouraging its independent growth.  A large measure of freedom is allowed in the prepared Montessori environment, encouraging discipline and the individual motivation to learn.  Montessori helps the child gain a strong sense and cultivate a love of life-long learning.

The Montessori classroom is the epitome of hands-on learning.  The didactic method is material-based and encourages learning by doing.  The child refines its sensory, fine-motor and intellectual planes of development through a graduated system of learning.  Simple concepts are introduced which eventually allow the jump to more abstract levels of thinking and learning.

Montessori materials are self-correcting, e.g. they have a control of error which allows the child to recognize by itself the correctness of its learning activity.  Observation and activity lead to comparative analysis and planes of learning experience.  Children master all sections of the Montessori curriculum and are well prepared when they enter first grade.

Although Maria Montessori is best known as an educator, she was a medical pioneer, the first woman doctor to graduate in Italy with an M.D. in 1896.  She began her work with children in insane asylums and in the slum districts of San Lorenzo, Rome, but soon expanded her work to include children from all strata of society in her "Casa dei Bambini" model.  Her revolutionary teaching ideas first found approval in Italy, then in the United States; later in Austria, India, and many other countries. Today Montessori schools operate on every continent.

Further Reading

The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) website lists the principal activities - seminars and conferences of the organization (www.montessori-ami.org).  The American Montessori Society (AMS) also has a website with information on seminars, courses, literature and Montessori-related topics (www.amshq.org).

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