The Montessori Method
"The child learns everything without knowing he/she is learning it, treading always in the path of joy." - Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori was one of the most influential pioneers in early childhood education in the 20th century. Her ideas have become known and recognized throughout the world over a period of more than 90 years.
Dr. Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. Her original interest was in medicine; she was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. She became interested in education through her work as a doctor. Her work and observation of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children of working parents in Rome, led her to develop ideas and materials tailored to the developmental needs of the growing child.
At the centre of Montessori's method was her belief in the "human potential" and in the child as his/her own teacher. Montessori maintained that a child "self constructs" given the right environment and the right activities.
She believed that a child possesses Sensitive Periods – spans in a child's life when he/she is particularly sensitive to certain aspects of the environment. These periods are not linear, but overlap and some are continuous and they enable the child to acquire characteristics that are particular to humans.
So great was the success of her method that she traveled the world establishing schools and lecturing about her discoveries. She wrote numerous books and articles right up until her death in 1952 at the age of 82.
She left the legacy of a method of education which combines a practical approach based on a carefully planned learning environment, with a philosophy centered on the idea of freedom for the child. Dr. Montessori believed that all children are intrinsically motivated to learn and they absorb knowledge without effort when provided with the right kind of activities in the right time of their development.