Maria Montessori became the first female physician in Italy in 1896. Her medical practice and clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn and how they “construct themselves” from what they find in their immediate environment. Her philosophy is based on the natural development of children and their intrinsic desire to explore, discover and learn from the world around them.
Dr. Montessori’s profound contribution to education was the creation of
an environment, materials and teacher training system
which responds to a simple truth – children teach themselves.
The Montessori philosophy is an educational method for children with the goal of helping them to become responsible, self-motivated individuals. It stresses the importance of adapting the child’s learning environment to his or her developmental level, and the role of physical activity in absorbing academic concepts and practical skills.
Dr. Montessori was the first person to write about “Sensitive Periods” in human development. These are unique periods during a person’s life when he or she will possess a “special sensibility” to acquiring a particular trait. The most sensitive periods come and go within the First Plane of Development which is early childhood (birth through age 6). These early years were labeled the period of the “absorbent mind” as sensitive periods come and go during this time in regards to different areas of learning including movement, language, social behavior, refinement of the senses, order and organization, fascination with small object, music, reading, writing and mathematics. Dr Montessori understood that making the most of this crucial development time in a child’s life creates a platform for future success.
Although the term “Montessori” may seem somewhat new and unfamiliar to some, Montessori teaching techniques have influenced early childhood education for over 100 years and are presently used in public and private classrooms all over the world. Dr. Montessori received acknowledgements from some well known figures in our history including Alexander Graham Bell, President Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison and Ghandi. She even addressed the United Nations as a special speaker and guest to promulgate further understanding in human development and education. Considered one of the most predominant figures of the last century, her legacy remains with us to this day.