Maria Montessori – (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952)
As one of Italy’s first female doctors, Maria used her experience and studies in education, pediatrics and psychiatry to make significant innovations in the way children were (and are) educated. Upon her graduation from the University of Rome’s medical program in 1896, she was assigned co-director of a teacher -training program for mentally challenged children. Founding a system based upon children’s innate learning sensibilities, her work there gained such success that by 1907, she moved on to found her own school, Casa de Bambini. There she continued her work using hands-on approaches to mathematics, natural sciences, practical life skills, and language. Below is an excerpt from Pat Pinciotti on the teachings of Dr. Montessori:
“Never give more to the brain than we give to the hand.” quote by Maria Montessori
‘The final line sums it up…“never give more to the brain than we give to the hand.” By this, Montessori refers to the belief that sensorial exploration of the material is regarded as two-fold creative activity…the young child can only understand (brain) what has been manipulated by the hand (work) , our youngest children especially can only fully comprehend what they have literally put their hands on.’ (Quote taken from Pat Pinciotti)
Then and today, children in a Montessori classroom are given the opportunity to move freely about the carefully planned environment, learning at their own pace (which often is accelerated from a traditional classroom approach), using sensorial works to imprint their daily lessons upon both mind and body.
During World War II, Dr. Montessori was forced to leave Italy, bringing her methods to India where she founded the Education for Peace program, which earned her two Nobel Peace Price nominations. Today, Dr. Montessori’s revolutionary teaching methods are still in use with over 20,000 schools in 110 countries.