Maria Montessori was born in Ancova, Italy in 1870. Upon graduating from medical school in 1896, she became one of the first women to ever qualify as a physician in her native country.
Her medical and clinical observations of children went on to become her life’s work. Her early analysis led her to conclude that children absorb from their environment - the first seeds of what is now known as the “Montessori method of education” were sewn. Education was to be re-imagined.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that no human being is educated by another person. He must do it himself or it will never be done. A truly educated individual continues learning long after the hours and years he spends in the classroom because he is motivated from within by a natural curiosity and love for knowledge. Dr. Montessori felt, therefore, that the goal of early childhood education should not be to ﬁll the child with facts from a pre-selected course of studies, but rather to cultivate his own natural desire to learn.
In the Montessori classroom this objective is approached in two ways: ﬁrst, by allowing each child to experience the excitement of learning by his own choice rather than by being forced; and second, by helping him to perfect all his natural tools for learning, so that his ability will be at a maximum in future learning situations. The Montessori materials have this dual long—range purpose in addition to their immediate purpose of giving speciﬁc information to the child.
Dr. Maria Montessori
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Each Montessori classroom, from birth through high school, operates on the principle of freedom within limits. Every program has its set of ground rules which differs from age to age, but is always based on core Montessori beliefs - respect for each other and for the environment.
Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials may be introduced to an individual child or to a small or large group. The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery within small group collaboration within the whole group community. The multi-year span in each class provides a family-like grouping where learning can take place naturally. More experienced children share what they have learned while reinforcing their own learning. Because this peer group learning is intrinsic to Montessori, there is often more conversation - language experiences - in the Montessori classroom than in conventional early education settings.