What is the Montessori Method of Education

Dr. Maria Montessori (1878-1952) was one of the most important early years educators of the 20th century. She was the innovator of classroom practices and ideas that have had a profound influence on the education of young children the world over.

She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School and became interested in education through her work as a doctor, treating what today are known as children with Special Needs. When she went on to establish schools for the disadvantaged children of working parents in Rome she approached their education as a scientist, using the classroom as her laboratory for observing children and finding ways to help them to achieve their full potential.

It soon became apparent that Dr. Montessori had developed a highly effective method of teaching, which could be used with great success with each and every child. She began to travel the world, establishing schools, lecturing about her discoveries and writing numerous books and articles right up to her death in Holland in 1952 at the age of 82. Many countries honored Dr. Maria Montessori with royal, civic and academic awards. For her lifetime of commitment to the education of children, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and 1951. She was deeply moved by this honor.

Dr. Montessori’s method of education combines a philosophy of freedom and self development for children with a practical approach. Her children’s houses as she termed them, provide a safe, carefully planned and structured environment for children to work in. She believed that all children want to learn and can absorb knowledge without effort if they are given the right kind of activities at the right time of their development by teachers who are trained to observe carefully and respond to their individual needs.

The philosophy underpinning her work is one of respect and care for all children, the ideal Montessori teacher is gentle, sympathetic and always looking for the best in any child.Montessori also believed that her children’s houses should teach peace, cross cultural understanding and care of the environment. Although the approach was developed almost a century ago, her ideas are at the forefront of current educational thinking and remarkably well suited to a time when the need for excellent nursery education provision for all children has at last been recognized.