The Montessori Method is becoming increasingly popular. Parents, schools, and other childcare facilities are beginning to adopt the teachings and methods of Maria Montessori. Why did Maria Montessori create this unique child-teaching method?
Maria Montessori was a physician and educator who was most popular for her work in the late 1800s and early 1900s with children. Montessori focused her work on discovering how children learn instinctively. She created the Montessori Method as a way to teach children, allowing for natural learning.
How did Maria Montessori create the Montessori Method for teaching children? Continue reading to learn the whole story of why and how the Montessori Method was created.
Who is Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori was an incredible person, not only for the amazing work she did for education and the change she made in the way children are taught and raised, but also for being a woman during a repressed time period. Maria Montessori is an iconic figure in history who will always be remembered for the great work she has done, both in work and in practice.
Maria Montessori was born in August 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy. She was born to two loving and well-educated parents. Her father was an accountant and her mother had a deep passion for education and reading in particular. This deep love and desire for education were taught to Maria from a young age. Before starting school, Maria’s family moved to Rome when she was only four years old. Here, Maria started her education journey.
Maria was a bright student and did not allow the traditional roles of women in her society to deter her from her pursuit of education. Maria was interested in many different career fields before she found her true passion of education for young children. When Maria was in her early teens and young twenties, she wanted to go into engineering. As a strong, confident young lady, Maria entered into an all-boys technical school at the age of 13 to pursue an education in engineering.
While studying at the all-boys technical school, she changed her mind on what she wanted to study; Maria wanted to become a doctor. Her parents had wanted Maria to make a career out of teaching young children, as this was one of few careers at the time which was very accepting to women. Despite her parent’s wishes, Maria insisted upon studying in the medical field, a career choice heavily dominated by men. Maria felt like she must become a doctor and was not going to quit.
Upon graduation from Regio Instituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci, Maria began studying at the University of Rome, but not initially in the medical field. While completing her engineering education, Maria had applied for the University of Rome. Unfortantantly, Maria was rejected. Unwilling to accept rejection and defeat, Maria began to take additional courses to prepare her for medical school and hopefully gain acceptance into the school. Maria began studying at the University of Rome, not to study in the medical field, but to study mathematics, physics, and natural sciences. Maria received her degree only two years later in 1892 at 22 years old.
Through her hard work in receiving her degree, Maria was able to receive word that she had been accepted into the Faculty of Medicine, allowing her to become a role model for other women wanting to go into the medical field. Maria became one of the first women in all of Italy to study medicine. Maria Montessori was the first woman to study in the medical field at the University of Rome.
Maria was able to pay for her medical education through a series of scholarships she had received. Not only for being a woman studying in a male-dominated field but also due to her intent to master in her field.
Maria’s medical education did not come with ease. She had to work hard, not only because the material being taught was difficult, but also to overcome the prejudice she faced from the men she studied with. Maria had to complete dissections alone because the school would not allow them to be done in mixed classes, and she was the only woman. Maria’s hard work and dedication allowed her to receive her degree in 1896. Maria became one of the first female doctors in Italy, and her name was known throughout the country.
Work with Children
When Maria first started practicing medicine after graduation, she worked primarily in psychiatry. She first started working as a surgical assistant at the Santo Spirito Hospital located in Rome. Maria worked with the poor, but mostly with the children. In 1897, Maria joined a volunteer research program for the University of Rome’s psychiatric clinic. As part of her volunteer work for the program, Maria had to visit the asylums in Rome for mentally disordered children (as it was called back then). Maria’s job was to find children who would be eligible for potential treatment back at the University.
While working with these children and visiting the asylums they were kept at, Maria began to noticed how the children seemed to have a lack of sensorial stimulation. This lack of stimulation seemed to be adding to their condition. Maria began to read all she could to understand children with learning disabilities.
As Montessori began to work more with the children in the asylum, she started to receive attention for her work. As a young 28-year-old, Maria was asked to speak to the National Medical Congress located in Turin. Here, Maria advocated for the children suffering from emotional and mental issues, expressing that a lack of proper provisions causes or adds to their delinquency.
A year later, when Maria spoke once again to the Congress, Maria spoke on social reform using proper education. She talked about how there should be proper training for all teachers who care for children with special needs.
Maria became a co-director of a special institution called Orthophrenic School. This teaching hospital and school would take in children with a wide variety of mental and emotional disabilities. Here, Maria was able to able to put in place some of the theories she—and other doctors—had to help children with special needs. Maria would study and observe the children all day and finish her notes at night. The time Maria spent at this school changed her career course from being a physician to an educator.
In 1907, Maria created her own school, not only for children with special needs but for all children. This school was called Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House. Here Maria began to further develop and create the Montessori Method. She had placed many different activities and materials for the children to use throughout the school, but would only keep those with which the children interacted. Maria began to realize through observation of the children that when surrounding by educational activities and materials, the children would teach themselves.
The school saw huge success, including 5-year-olds teaching themselves how to read and write. By 1908, four other schools had opened and were allowing children to teach themselves in a supportive environment.
Maria Montessori’s work with children was beginning to become known worldwide. Around the time of WWI, Maria had visited America on multiple different occasions to share her method and her teaching strategies. The notes she had taken from the observations of the children became her first published book.
Among her many titles of a physician, educator, icon, and more, Maria Montessori is also known for her stance and advocacy towards women’s rights and education. From her early years, Maria stood against prejudice towards women and their career choices. Maria is known as a leading voice for women throughout Italy and beyond.
After graduating from the University of Rome, Maria was asked to attend the International Congress for Women in Berlin as the representative for Italy. Here, Maria gave a speech to Congress advocating for equal pay for women. Maria also argued for social reform in the way women were treated in the workforce. When speaking to a reporter after her speech, she expressed her opinion that the upper class is the issue in how women are treated.
The work Maria Montessori did for children is something that is still used today and commonly practiced. Maria taught many teachers, not only in Italy but around the world how to allow children to teach themselves. Maria has helped teachers, parents, children, and special needs children throughout the world and continues to do so many years after her death. Her advocacy for women has inspired many to pursue career choices of their own and to also stand up for women’s rights.
Why Did Maria Montessori Create the Montessori Method?
Maria Montessori was a hard-working and motivated woman who wanted to make a difference in the world. As Maria’s work with children continued, she realized there needed to be a change in the way children are treated and taught. Maria created and used theories to create the Montessori Method. The Montessori Method was created to allow children to learn on their own and teach themselves. Maria Montessori created the Montessori Method to help children of all different backgrounds learn on their own.
How It Is Used Today
Today, the Montessori Method is used by parents, teachers, daycare teachers, and other child care providers. The Montessori Method is known by many and commonly practiced. Similar to the schools Maria Montessori had created throughout Italy, there are now many schools and child care facilities that primarily teach using the Montessori Method.
In the United States alone, there are over 5,000 Montessori schools that allow children to teach themselves. There are schools around the world using the Montessori Method as the primary technique for child education, and they are thriving. Many parents are now choosing to admit their children into Montessori Schools for their early education years, rather than the public state schooling. Some of these schools are bilingual, allowing children to learn in more than one language, giving them a huge advantage in life.
There are also Montessori schools with special programs for students who suffer from learning disabilities. Some Montessori schools even include the elderly, allowing children to learn from the wisdom of their elders.
These schools are not the only ways children are receiving a Montessori Method education. Many parents have begun to teach their children through the Montessori Method, allowing children to do more things on their own. Parental practices such as allowing for uninterrupted play-time with educational materials, and having child-sized furniture and appliances around the house are used by many parents now.
Related: How to do Montessori at Home
Many parenting groups discuss Montessori parenting and how they have seen and observed their children’s reactions to it. To find a Montessori Parenting group, simply search for your area. Alternatively, there are many online groups and forums where parents also share their tips and tricks of parenting, allowing the children to teach themselves. Click the link to be directed to a Montessori Parenting Forum.
Currently, there is a bigger push towards parenting and teaching children using the Montessori Method. Many toy companies specialize in creating educational materials for children to teach themselves with. Many parents are turning to the Montessori Method for parenting tips. Books, blogs, social media accounts, and other types of media are beginning to specialize and focus on the Montessori Method and the good it can do for children.
Many different companies are not only specializing in Montessori-themed play materials but also in other Montessori appliances for the house for a child to learn through. Some of these appliances include kitchen supplies to allow children to learn their way around the kitchen and how to make some of their own meals, and yard tools for children to give them opportunities to learn tools that will be useful in their future. These appliances and materials give children opportunities to learn how to grow from experience rather than watching someone or being told how to do it.