Maria Montessori

 

Maria Montessori was born August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle in the province of Ancona, Italy. She was the first woman admitted to medical school in 1892 in Italy. She developed a unique method of education which was later named after her. By observing and guiding children and discussing the observations Montessori and her assistant teacher achieved great results. The way she prepared the environment played a large role. Having light furniture that the children could move helped them develop gross motor skills. Always treating the children with respect and believing in their potential was important as well. Montessori made the children feel relaxed and comfortable by providing a child sized environment. Montessori felt it was natural to learn to write before reading. She saw that the children were developing the skills needed for writing and introduced the materials needed to teach them. She used letters made of sandpaper as well as paper and let the children explore them. They traced the letters and started to write them. Soon they were relating each letter with the proper sound and even writing syllables and small words. One of Montessori’s ideas about education was to let the children choose what they wanted to work with. Another was to smile and make eye contact before every presentation. She created the term the “absorbent mind” which described the time from birth to six, particularly birth to three, in which a child gains extraordinary amounts of information through their senses. Developing language skills, motor and cognitive skills, as well as social skills and what to expect from the world around them. A “sensitive period” refers to when a child is completely focused on a certain task, seemingly compelled to develop a certain skill. “Normalization” is what Montessori used to describe a child who works with enthusiasm and little direction and is what the program hopes to achieve. Montessori refers to the children’s activities as work rather than play to show it has value to society as opposed to play which is usually enjoyable to the individual. Montessori agreed to become an ambassador of the children of Italy only if she alone would determine where her methods were used. In the last years of her life Montessori and her son Mario returned to Amsterdam. Six years later in 1946 she moved to London to open Montessori centre and give teacher-training classes. She was the invited back to Italy to reopen Montessori schools. While in Rome she was honoured for the work she had done with the children. She continued on teaching and speaking and received many awards, and was nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She continued to share her thoughts on education and worked toward teaching children how to live peacefully and create a peaceful society. She passed away on May 6 1952 at the age of 81.