About Montessori

Maria Montessori, born in 1870, was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology. She believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a "blank slate" waiting to be written upon.
Dr. Montessori gave the world a scientific method, practical and tested, for bringing forth the very best in young human beings.  She taught adults how to respect individual differences, and to emphasize social interaction and the education of the whole personality rather than the teaching of a specific body of knowledge. Montessori practice is always up-to-date and dynamic because observation and the meeting of needs is continual and specific for each child. When physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs are met children glow with excitement and a drive to play and work with enthusiasm, to learn, and to create. They exhibit a desire to teach, help, and care for others and for their environment. 

The high level of academic achievement so common in Montessori schools is a natural outcome of experience in such a supportive environment. The Montessori method of education is a model which serves the needs of children of all levels of mental and physical ability as they live and learn in a natural, mixed-age group which is very much like the society they will live in as adults.  

The Montessori method appeals to me because the child directs their own learning and is permitted to do real work using real materials. It recognizes the young child's need for tactile stimulation and incorporates use of this sense into their learning through such materials as sandpaper letters and various palm-sized objects for counting, vocabulary building, and more.  Class time is structured with the students' learning needs in mind rather than the teacher's needs. Instead of students sitting at desks all learning the same things at the same time, Montessori students are free to walk around the classroom or even outdoors and study what they are interested in studying while receiving guidance from their teacher when needed. Children are introduced to new concepts and activities through demonstrations rather than lectures. I think that this is the way that all children would prefer to learn if given the opportunity.

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.  

           - Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

Information on this page was used with permission of The International Montessori Index, www.montessori.edu