“Montessori is an education for independence, preparing not just for school, but for life.” Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, philosopher and humanitarian. She was born in Italy in 1870 and after studying science and engineering, became the first woman to enrol and then graduate from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Rome in 1896. Maria became interested in working with children and developed an approach to education strongly influenced by her scientific training.
Montessori represents both a philosophy and method of education. As early as 1909 Maria Montessori’s work began to attract the attention of international observers. Her work was widely published and spread rapidly throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, North America and other countries. Maria continued to develop her unique method of educating children over a professional career that spanned over 50 years. The Montessori approach was developed through intense scientific observation of children from many ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds from birth to maturity. It is based upon a deep understanding of child development.
“Help me to do it myself.” Maria Montessori
The Montessori philosophy is based on supporting the complete development of the child as he or she progresses from birth to adulthood. It takes the broad vision of education as an aid for life. As a way of teaching, Montessori offers the view that knowledge is not passively gained by listening to words. Rather, it is gained through experiences in the surrounding environment.
Therefore, the Montessori approach uses a prepared classroom to inspire children towards a life-long love of learning. Qualities of the prepared classroom include – structure, order, freedom of movement, and freedom of choice. Within this structured space, children learn through hands-on experiences. Especially relevant are the beautifully made Montessori learning materials that children work with to make independent learning discoveries.
Children are guided in their learning by the Montessori teachers, who act as the link between the children, and the prepared environment. The teacher’s role is to prepare the classroom and observe and guide their students in their learning. As a result, children progress at their own pace, according to their own abilities.
By valuing each child as an individual, children are empowered to become confident, independent learners.