Who Was Maria Montessori?
Montessori education derives its name from Maria Montessori, a woman, who in many ways, was ahead of her time. She was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, in 1870 and became the first female physician in Italy when she graduated from medical school in 1896. The clinical observations she made during her medical practice led her to analyzing how children learn, how they build themselves from what they find in their immediate environment.
She accepted a challenge in 1906: to educate 60 children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. It was there that she founded the first Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House," and developed what ultimately became the Montessori way of education. She saw the children's almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials. Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every lesson Dr. Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do "naturally" by themselves and unassisted by adults.
"Within the child lies the fate of the future." --Maria Montessori
Children teach themselves. This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori's lifelong pursuit of educational reform. She tirelessly dedicated herself to furthering the self-creating process of the child.
In 1952, Maria Montessori died in Noordwijk, Holland, but her work continues. Today, there are close to 5,000 private and approximately 200 public Montessori schools in the United States alone, and Montessori schools exist on every continent except Antarctica.
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