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History of Montessori Education by Cleo Gib

History of Montessori Education by
Article Posted: 12/08/2015
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History of Montessori Education


Maria Montessori, born on August 31, 1870 in the small town of Chiaravalle, was the pioneer of the Montessori education revolution. Montessori, the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree, was known to work in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, and education. Montessori created a wonderful education method throughout her lifetime and influenced many different children. There are many options for Montessori in Riverside, but read on for more information about this form of education and the creator of the Montessori method.  

In her early years at age 13, she began school at a technical school—for boys. After seven years of training in engineering, she started pre medical classes. In 1896, she became a physician and developed an intense interest in the treatment of special needs children and children in general. In 1907, she was able to open her first classroom the “Casa dei Bambini,” in Rome, also known as the Children’s House. Because of her science background, she preferred to work off of the observations of the children and how they worked in the environment with the lessons and tools to learn provided to them. After this brief start, Montessori met Baron Leopold and Baroness Alice Franchetti who had similar ideas for education. Montessori moved to their home at Citta di Castello and set up her Children’s Home in their home. She also published a book based on this method that was called Method Franchetti-Montessori.

She was then invited to the U.S. by Thomas Bell, Thomas Edison and other notable scientists, to speak at Carnegie Hall where she set up a classroom to teach children her new Montessori method. Though she initially traveled to India expecting to return, Montessori was exiled to India after widely proclaiming peace as a solution to all problems when war broke out between Italy and Great Britain.  After developing her program more, she lived in India and while there was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice.

Her program, based on the idea of a child-led teaching method, followed a child’s individual interests. Her education theory was also based on classes with mixed-aged children. In her method, teachers do not lead their students, but are led by them. Though this may seem to not focus on academics, the Montessori method is extremely focused on academia. One of the methods by which children are taught is through manipulatives, which are designed to be self-corrective. This means that children are able to tell whether they have assembled it properly. This creates an environment of learning, rather than teaching. Montessori had listed characteristics of human psychology, which were identified as human tendencies. Some of these tendencies are: abstraction, activity, repetition, self-perfection, work, and more. She also stated that the learning environment should facilitate movement, activity, harmony, cleanliness, limited materials (only those that help the students learn) and a healthy order.

According to, this focus on letting children explore for themselves and learn at their own pace and strengths affects how the classrooms are arranged. Montessori classrooms are arranged with “children ages 3, 4, and 5 all being in the same room … allowing the older children to serve as role models for younger ones,” as well as socializing them with older and younger age groups.

There are now more than 22,000 Montessori schools in over 110 countries worldwide and her message about this type of education continues to spread, despite her death in Amsterdam in 1952. Some critics of her education method say that it doesn’t reach the high levels of academia that it proclaimed to, but there are many studies that show the method to be as effective, if not more so, as any other teaching method. The Montessori methods spans over all ages, from infants up to high schoolers, and has proven effective for all. Read about Montessori in Riverside and learn more before deciding to enroll your child. 

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