What is Montessori

At the turn of the century Maria Montessori became Italy’s first female medical doctor. Her first work was with children referred to as “defective”. Her unique approach transformed these children into children who tested at normal levels. Montessori used her approach with normal children in a ghetto in Rome.

The results of the first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) were so dramatic that her “method” spread rapidly all over the world. In America, the Alexander Graham Bells and the Woodrow Wilsons were among her supporters; in England, Bertrand Russell was a “Montessori” parent.

About Montessori

George Bernard Shaw and Alfred North Whitehead were also attracted to Montessori’s work. In Switzerland, Jean Piaget headed the Montessori Society (and borrowed extensively from her work ). In India, Ghandi helped spread her work, and in Italy, Mussolini wanted to turn Italy’s state schools into Montessori schools. During World War II Montessori interned in India as an Italian national; she established many schools there and they remain active to this day.

Dr. Montessori later held chairs in Anthropology and Psychology at the University of Rome. Twice she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in education and peace. In 1929, Maria Montessori and her son, Dr. Mario Montessori, founded the Association Montessori Internationale (“AMI”) to protect and continue the integrity of her work. Maria Montessori died in the Netherlands in 1952. Her work has continued to flourish around the world despite considerable adulteration in some places, due to the fact that use of the term “Montessori” is not legally protected or restricted.

The Montessori method (“Montessori”) is a system of education that has been evolving for over 60 years and through the AMI, incorporates shared experiences from all continents of the world. At its most fundamental level, Montessori incorporates basic principles of child development. This approach is easily adaptable to groups of children of any age, in any culture. Much of what is considered “new” and “experimental” in education today has long been a part of Montessori practice.

Montessori is founded on Dr. Montessori’s work which covers in detail the initial two of four “planes of development” in children. The first plane is referred to as the absorbent mind and is roughly subdivided by age range into periods: 0 to 3 and 3 to 6. The first period is termed the unconscious absorbent mind; the second the conscious absorbent mind. The second plane is divided into ages 6 to 9 and 9 to 12. Montessori’s approach outlined the work of the third plane, 12 to 18 and some experimental work is now underway with Montessori children aged 12 -15.