Who was Maria Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician and anthropologist who devoted her life to understanding how children develop socially, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. She observed children all over the world, through this she discovered universal patterns of development which are found in all children regardless of their culture or the era in which they live.
In 1907, Dr. Montessori was given the responsibility of caring for a group of children in Rome’s impoverish San Lorenzo district. She began to see the importance of a positive, nurturing environment that changes with the developmental needs of the child. As she observed the children and their response to the environment, she saw them demonstrate capabilities and interests that exceeded her expectations.
The set of materials used in the "Montessori" environment were designed over a period of many years by Dr. Maria Montessori and her associates, creating a concrete, physical representation of concepts and skills that children are naturally motivated to learn in their normal course of development. These materials are still used today. To ensure the quality and integrity of these materials she founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 1929.
Dr. Montessori was a visionary, not easily daunted by the many challenges she faced during her career. She traveled extensively, lecturing and teaching throughout Europe, India and in the United States. She was recognized for her efforts by educators, psychologists and political leaders of the day. Her associates included such people as Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander Graham Bell and Jean Piaget.
Dr. Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and 1951 and continued working, teaching and writing up to the time of her death. Over the past one hundred years children throughout the world have benefited from this educational approach that supports, nurtures, and protects natural development. Dr. Maria Montessori’s legacy lives on in the children whose lives are touched by her discoveries about life.
As guides and observers at Montessori Magnet we are elated to work with children and families as we continue Dr. Maria Montessori’s legacy.