The Origins of Montessori Education
Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in Ancona, Italy. To understand her unique method of education it is important to know something of her background.
The child of a progressive and ambitious family, Maria chose to study engineering and mathematics at a time when higher education for girls was considered unnecessary. Even more remarkably, she went on to qualify as her country’s first female doctor. It is therefore hardly surprising that from such a remarkable woman came a remarkable philosophy. Her early work aiding the development of children with disabilities showed her, that with a special kind of help and encouragement, they were capable of learning far more than had been considered possible. Dr Montessori began to develop special learning materials to help these children to follow a normal academic program and to enter the state school system.
The results of these experiments were so impressive that she expanded the scale of her work. She aimed to show that if her special children, working with carefully structured materials, could achieve a standard approaching National Average, then other children, also working with the same materials could reach an even higher standard.
However, even she did not dream that her theory would result in the discovery of an almost limitless academic potential within the average child. In 1907 Maria Montessori opened her first school, situated in a slum area of San Lorenzo. She was so encouraged by the results that she began publishing books and giving lectures to share her discoveries. Thus the Montessori Method of Education was born. In addition, individual teaching combined with the child being free to work at their own level means that Montessori Education also provides a stimulating and enriching environment for the gifted child.