Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome’s school of medicine. Dr. Maria Montessori gained recognition for her work in math and the established sciences. She also pursued study in the newer disciplines of the day: anthropology and psychiatry. These two areas of interest would be of great value to her in her work as a physician and scientist.
Her approach to education was based on her observations as well as her belief that the education of children was the means to create a better society. She observed children around the world and found that the laws of development were universal and inherent in children of all races and cultures. The Montessori approach to education from birth through adolescence continues to be respected and practiced internationally today.
Montessori education sees the child as a unique human being in the process of self-formation, one who often has quite accurate instincts about what it is that he or she needs to do next in order to grow and to learn. Montessori schools facilitate this discovery through specially prepared environments that support a child’s intellectual and spiritual growth. In Montessori classrooms, children are grouped according to developmental planes, with an age range of approximately three / six years in each level. Children work for uninterrupted blocks of time on the work of their own choosing, from a variety of meaningful activities, often involving specially developed manipulative materials that help children grasp abstract concepts concretely. Children are free to move about the classroom as they need, and are given both great freedom and great responsibility.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children are in the process of self-construction, and will naturally seek out new ideas through curiosity and an innate drive to learn. She saw her educational method as a model for peace in society; and the skills of cooperation, respect and self-control that students develop in a Montessori environment are the ones that lead to a happy and fulfilling life. Yet it was her gift to children—her gift of truly seeing, understanding, and respecting children—that led to her greatest accomplishment: the development of a unique approach to the education of children. Her approach remains as powerful, inventive and child-responsive today as it was in 1907 when she opened her first school. We stay true to Maria Montessori’s vision by maintaining the standards of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), which she founded.