Who was Maria Montessori?

Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, in 1870, and became the first woman to qualify as a physician in Italy.

In 1906, she began working with a group of sixty underprivileged children in the slums of Rome. She founded the first ‘Children’s House’ (Casa de Bambini).

Dr Montessori made observations that proved to be life changing for her and the children who attended her schools. She was amazed at the realised potential of the children and found that even these children, with encouragement, had a spontaneous interest in learning and self-discipline.

Her background in medicine and the scientific method of observation led her to formulate these exciting discoveries into a new kind of education. She applied her discoveries to normal children, giving them opportunity to progress in an atmosphere of freedom. She found children were able to pace their own development, through a series of sensitive periods where they became aware of language, order, their senses and the society in which they lived. She encouraged these periods into bursts of creativity like reading, writing and curiosity. She discovered the unknown fact that every child had a spontaneous urge to learn, evolving a new method that would revolutionize teaching concepts, free children from rigid formal education and bring joy and self-achievement to the classroom.

Her extraordinary successes were spread extensively, with educators from around the globe coming to observe the children themselves, and take the ideas back to their part of the world. Until her death in 1952, she continued to develop her philosophy, techniques and unique classroom materials. She lectured worldwide, published many books, and trained many teachers.