Who was Dr.Maria Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori was a physician, an educator, and a scientist who had a passion for a better understanding of the best student in the classroom than the traditional teacher to student classroom settings.
She was invited by a couple to establish a home for the children (a childcare home) where her psychological experiment can be put into practice. In this childcare, she worked with the less privileged children and those who are not suitable to go to school due to their impoverished states.
People labeled this kind of children very slow to learn and that their ability to understand at school is limited, but Dr. Montessori was ready to prove otherwise.
On January 6, in 1907, Casa Dei Bambini (which is interpreted as children's house) was opened by Dr. Montessori, and she was willing to make Casa Dei Bambini an educational haven for these children through the provision of a serene environment and other necessary materials for easy learning and character cultivation for the kids.
Dr. Montessori saw that these students were at first showing unwillingness to learn, but they started showing a positive attitude towards learning as time went by.
One distinctive feature of these students was their readiness, willingness, and drive to be taught by the environment, and everyone's knowledge gotten by them was auto-didactic (self-taught). They later showed interest in solving challenging puzzles, taking care of the environment, and making their meals themselves. She also observed that children usually carry out deep concentration when things are new to them and then practice them independently; this creates learning experiences.
Dr. Montessori formulated a design for learning and came up with unusual learning materials and equipment to facilitate comfortable and comprehensive learning. She also created an enabling environment that she thought would improve the natural desire of children to learn.
These learning designs were gotten from her years of scientific observation and expertise from her previous works with young children.
The Rise of Montessori Education
Dr. Maria Montessori’s accomplishments in Italy began to draw attention all around the world. People started viewing education differently from the usual conventional methods of education. In no time, inquisitors, who are passionate about learning this new technique, started trouping into Italy to have a first-hand experience of the Montessori education and to see for themselves the children transformed by it. Many concluded that Montessori is the best educational approach because it focuses on self-discipline and concentration, as demonstrated by the students at Casa Dei Bambini.
Dr. Montessori started teaching people (educators) from different parts of the world the Montessorian education approach; she drew out courses and taught them many willing to learn.
Within a few years of existence, the Montessori approach had already spread across some continents of the world.
Dr. Montessori’s first book, titled ‘the Montessori Methods’ (Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica applicate all'educazione infantile Nelle Case Dei Bambini), was published in 1909. Within some years, the book had been translated into ten languages. The English version of the book sold out 5000 copies in just four days.
The Montessori school grew much in Western Europe and around the world by 1910, and by 1911 the first Montessorian school was established in the United States of America (USA).
Praises started trouping in for Dr. Maria Montessori and the Montessori approach from educational scholars and different magazines worldwide.
In 1917, Dr. Montessori published another book that narrates her stance on children's education within 7–11. She titled ‘L'autoeducazionne nelle Scuole Elementary’ (the translation in English is “The Advanced Montessori Method”).
Maria Montessori's New Research
In the early years of Montessori development, it focuses on educating young children between their early development stages. But by the 1920s, Dr. Montessori shifted her focus into a more complex age, the age of adolescence.
She opined that children in this category need to find their purpose, engage in activities that will help the children to figure out who they are, help them discover their position in the world, and how to figure out procedures to help them be a responsible human being to the society as a whole.
At that time, she recommended schools (that is residential) where young adolescents can live, study, and be productive. There, she believed that the school would be a kind of a community where the young adolescents can work in, live in, and form trustworthy relationships. She said that these adolescents could engage in entrepreneurial activities like making handmade goods and marketing these products themselves.
Her reason for including entrepreneurial skills and marketing is to help them learn interdependence and how to best meet society's needs at large.
In 1929, Dr. Montessori and her son Mario established the first Montessori association called the Montessori International Association to guarantee that the approach's rudiments and the ideology behind the Montessori education are preserved and carried on as planned by her.
Montessori Educational Movement in America
In 1911, the first Montessori school was opened in the United States of America. As soon as it was opened, America's success led to several other Montessori schools in the United States.
It's believed that the Montessori school in America was established for kids from wealthy backgrounds, cultured households who are trying to give their kids the best education.
Dr. Maria Montessori traveled to America in 1913; her reason was to teach and make the Montessori approach more prominent in America. She performed a 3-week lecture tour for the curious educators and interested crowd.
In Washington, D.C., it was believed that Dr. Maria lectured more than 400 willing audiences, including some prominent people.
Also, a lecture was arranged for her at New York City's Carnegie Hall, where she lectured an audience of up to 1000 people using moving pictures taken in her school (Casa Dei Bambini).
After her successful trip to the United States of America, she went back home. Still, she returned to America in 1915 to help train and give courses to teachers who were willing to adopt the Montessori techniques.