Biography of Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori was a woman beyond her time. Born in Italy in 1870, she went to medical school and became the first woman doctor in Italy.
A genius not only of intellect, but of compassion, she was first drawn to work with handicapped children. Society during that time referred to these children as ‘idiots’ who were simply relegated to the asylum.
Dr Montessori worked with them and before long, these children began to do comparably well as those with no handicap. It was not hard for Dr. Montessori to wonder what the results could be when the same method she employed with the handicapped be used also with those who were not handicapped.
The opportunity to do this came in 1907 in a poor section of Rome. She called the place Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House. In this first school she established, she worked with children handicapped by poverty.
As a woman of science, she observed. And as she started to understand the nature of childhood, she developed ways to address how a prepared environment brings the best in the child. The school she started in Rome became a showcase because of how the children developed. Her successes led her to continue in her observations, documenting what she would call ‘the secrets of childhood’ and challenging the set ways of how children were being taught conventionally during that time.
Dr. Montessori’s contribution in the field of education lives to this day. Italy has honored her by marking their thousand- lira currency with her portrait.
She died in Holland in 1952 having left a legacy that continues to enrich the lives of countless children and their families.