The Montessori curriculum is a unique educational method that has been changing the lives of children for over a century. This method of education is distinguished for its multi-age class structure and exploratory methods. Rather than adhering to high-pressure traditional schooling methods with grades and tests, Montessori programs give students educational tools appropriate to their age groups, and allows students to choose their own work and learn in a collaborative environment.
With more than 5,000 private Montessori schools in the United States that employ the method, it’s clear that the educational movement is alive and well. While we may know about Montessori schools, many do not know about the woman behind this movement. Maria Montessori was a groundbreaking woman of her time that pushed the boundaries of her gender and the education system as she knew it.
Maria Montessori Blazed a Trail
Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. She was an exceptionally smart and ambitious young woman; at the age of 13 she enrolled in an all boys technical school to pursue a career in engineering. Yet as time went by, Maria realized that medicine was her true calling. After being rejected once, Maria Montessori was admitted to medical school and received her degree in 1896. For a woman of her time, this was an exceptional feat.
Maria Montessori’s Educational Ideas
Maria’s interest in medical psychiatry soon turned into an interest in education. She immersed herself in education theory, taking courses on pedagogy and ultimately developed many theories of her own about education. In 1900, Maria worked as a co-director for a training institute for special education teachers. There, she was able to take her teaching observations and utilize them as teaching methods. The program was deemed a success, as children made significant educational gains.
In 1907, Maria opened Casa dei Bambini, a school specifically for children who were economically disadvantaged or who had disabilities. Thus, the very first Montessori school was born, and by 1910, the Montessori education method spread worldwide.
Maria Montessori’s contributions have made a great impact on children around the world. Montessori methods encourage students to engage with education through their own devices; a recent study shows that this educational approach leads to significantly higher levels of motivation, interest, and importance in schoolwork and school-related tasks. Today, private Montessori school systems are thriving, and will continue to do so.
Maria Montessori died in May of 1962, and will forever be remembered for the great strides she made for education all across the globe.