MARIA MONTESSORI – FROM A LITTLE GIRL TO A LARGE PEDAGOGUE
Maria Montessori, was born on October 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy. At the age of fourteen, she began to show interest in mathematics and natural sciences. Her parents expected that Maria would be educated as a teacher, the only occupation the girls were interested in at that time. Yet, she thought differently. She enrolled in a science and technology school. In that school, her interest in biology was strengthened and with many difficulties she enrolled in medicine as the first woman. At the end of the study, Maria Montessori directed her interest in the field of pediatrics and psychiatry. She was employed as a volunteer at a psychiatric clinic. There, she found a group of weak-minded children, without adequate professional development assistance. Here, she began to deal more closely with children with developmental disabilities. She studied the works of French physician Itard and his student Seguin.
Maria de Montessori was influenced by the works of Roussseau, Pestalozzi and Frobel. In the mid-19th century, Frobel opened his first kindergarten where he developed the first working materials
and toys for children. With the help of geometric bodies in the shape of a cylinder, a cube and a pyramid, children developed senses and mobility.
Working with such children strengthened Maria Montessori’s conviction that they were more pedagogical than a medical problem. She represented this thesis at the Congress in Turin. As early as 1899, Maria Montessori was chosen as a lecturer at a teacher education seminar, who were working with children with mental disorders, and she became a member of the National League for the education of children with disabilities
At the age of thirty (1901), Mary decided to deepen knowledge from the sciences studying human development, so she studied anthropology, psychology and philosophy of upbringing.
She was engaged as a lecturer in the field of pedagogy for students of medicine and natural sciences. Her basic thesis was that, first of all, it is necessary to thoroughly familiarize the child’s individual traits, and then use these findings to direct educational procedures. Already then, she found out that learning was, first of all, individually conditioned, that is, that there was no learning without the individual activities of the learning subject.
The professional development of Maria Montessori was significant in 1906 and 1907. The first Children’s House Casa Dei Bambini was opened on January 6, 1907 for children from the age of two to six. She equipped this Children’s House with special didactic materials. She soon noticed that the children took their own materials from the cupboard and played with them on their own initiative. Later on, some children spontaneously began to look for writing supplies and write on the floor. Montessori concluded that the materials and the associated procedures that she had previously used in working with children with developmental disabilities accelerated the learning of normal children. She noticed that children with great love and attention often repeated certain actions, for example, stacking materials or cleaning their own shoes. As she was a doctor, she also put in equipment in the children’s rooms that encourages the movement and development of all organs.
Soon, Casa Dei bambini became known and visited by many interested people. New Montessori kindergartens were founded in Rome and Milan, and Maria was invited as an expert in England, Australia and America. There she helped in founding of new houses, which nurtured her Montessori education.
Her book “Il Metodo” was published in 1909, which was soon translated into twenty world languages.
Maria Montessori began studying two groups of children aged six to nine in her own home.
There she researched the application of her own upbringing methods and materials for working with school children.
The following year, her book Dr.Montessori’s Own Book was published in English, which explains how her materials were produced and used. In addition, the Company was founded to ensure that everyone was provided with the required professional assistance in the work. Her later works were published in the books of the Children’s Discovery (Montessori, 1964), The Creative Child (Montessori, 1972), From Childhood to Adolescence (Montessori, 1966). The book, The Absorbent mind first appeared in 1949. And contains the conceptual basis of the whole work of Maria Montessori.
In 1929, with the help of her son, Mario she founded the International Association: Association Montessori Internationale. This association organized the International Exchange of Experts, as well as the training of teachers and educators, which is still working today.
At the beginning of the civil war in Spain, Maria Montessori moved to the Netherlands, where there was already a lot of interest in her method. Despite her old age, she travelled to India, where she was devoted to the expansion of the concept and training of teachers for several years.
The nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize followed in 1949. She died on May 6, 1952 in Noordwijk, near Amsterdam.