Maria Montessori - (1870/08/31 - 1952/05/06)
Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle.
María was an educator, pedagogue, scientist, doctor, psychiatrist, philosopher, anthropologist, biologist, psychologist, feminist and humanist.
In 1896, at age 26, she graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University “La Sapienza” in Rome.
She was the first Italian woman who graduated as a doctor.
After graduating in medicine, Maria studied anthropology and obtained a doctorate in philosophy.
She attended one of the first courses in experimental psychology and developed her own classification of mental illnesses.
As soon as she finished his regulated professional training, she devoted herself fully to giving back to society part of the benefits she had received from it:
- 1896: participated in the International Congress for Women, in Berlin. She presented her ideas about the repercussions that living conditions have on women and children; especially if they are clearly unfavorable.
- 1898: at a congress in Turin she explained the importance of education and care for children with mental disabilities. She released the data she already had regarding the relationship between child abandonment and the subsequent development of crime.
- 1900: she participated again in the International Congress for Women, this time in London.
Fundamentals of the Maria Montessori Method
With this background, María Montessori deduced that education is based on a triangle formed by a) Environment; b) Love; c) Child’s relationship with the Environment.
She said that in children the moral strength and the strength of personality are already present, although they must be developed; that the child’s right to protest and have an opinion must be respected; This increases their observation, analysis and synthesis capabilities.
Based on the materials of Dr. Séguin, María Montessori produced her own materials.
She selected two assistants who had no teacher preparation, without prejudice or preconceived ideas.
The experience acquired in the years 1898 and 1900, cemented the basis of their knowledge.
She managed to ensure that the children entrusted to their care performed the state exam: they obtained similar results to those of normal children. She came to the curious conclusion that “the normal child is underdeveloped.”
Starting from observation and the scientific method, she elaborated her materials and her philosophy.
María Montessori founded the Children's House
To do this, she facilitated the founding of the “Children’s House” in the San Lorenzo neighborhood of Rome. This house was inaugurated on January 6, 1907.
In 1909, the first Montessori guide course was given.
People from all professions attended this first course.
At the end of the course, María Montessori wrote her first book “The method of scientific pedagogy.”
There he related the development of the materials and the foundation of his method.
María Montessori invited to the United States
In 1912, the excellent results of the Montessori method and the extraordinary personality of its promoter led to Alexander Graham Bell (American scientist and speech therapist of Scottish origin, inventor of the telephone and who had supported the education of Helen Keller, a blind and deaf girl ) and her daughter will invite María Montessori to the United States.
Soon, the first Children’s House in that country was opened.
The action of María Montessori in Italy
That year, Dr. Montessori gave an International Conference in Rome, which was attended by many people who were impressed by the age at which the students of the Children’s House, in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, learned to read and write.
In 1926, with the support of Benito Mussolini, he founded the “Royal School of the Montessori Education”.
She already had the firm and faithful support of her son Mario, who accompanied her on all her tours. Mario had married Helen Christie in 1917, and they had 4 children.
María Montessori founded, in 1929, the Montessori International Association (AMI), which is currently based in Amsterdam (Netherlands).
In Italy, schools and teacher training centers multiplied.
But, when Duce Mussolini wanted to begin indoctrinating children, Montessori preferred to renounce state aid; I was convinced that indoctrination is radically incompatible with freedom, the foundation of its educational method.
The Duce ordered to close all Montessori schools.
Hitler did the same in Germany, where several schools had already been installed.
These innovative principles created numerous difficulties, to the point of forcing her to have to leave Fascist Italy in 1933, because her educational experience clashed frontally with the totalitarian system.
In 1914 Maria moved to Spain, where she remained until the end of World War I. Maria lived in Spain from 1917, and was joined by Mario and his wife Helen Christy, where they raised their 4 children Mario Jr, Rolando, Marilena and Renilde.
She was living in the Netherlands, and in India. In these countries, he developed various training programs for new teachers. The war experience led her to deepen the educational issues related to peace, reaching the conclusion that education is the only way to build peace. Precisely for these works, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, three times.
The fundamental principles of the method devised by María Montessori are that:
- Children learn everything unconsciously, gradually moving from the unconscious to consciousness.
- They can be compared with a sponge; The difference is that the sponge has a limited absorption capacity, while the child’s mind is infinite.
- There are sensitive periods, in which children can acquire a skill very easily. These moments are passengers.
- One way to motivate children and arouse their desire to learn is summed up in the formula: “Help me to do it myself”.
- The adult should only intervene when the child asks for help; in this way, autonomy is favored from the first years.
- The adult’s role is to guide the child, provide a good and comfortable environment; and be a good observer.
- A true educator is at the service of the educating child and must cultivate in him humility, responsibility and love.
- When the child has a doubt, first consult his parents, then an older partner, then a book; In this way the child gains independence and often manages to solve his problem without going to the adult.
- The game is the main activity through which the child observes and investigates everything related to his environment, in a free and spontaneous way.
The Montessori method (1912)
Pedagogical Anthropology (1913)
Advanced Montessori Method (1917)
The Boy in the Church (1929)
The Mass explained to the children (1932)
Peace and Education (1934)
The secret of childhood (1936)