Happy Birthday, Dr Montessori!

First a physician and later a psychologist, social worker and pedagogue before these professions existed, or certainly before women were “allowed” to hold these jobs, Dr Maria Montessori was a brilliant mind working far before her time.

Born on this day in 1870, Maria Montessori grew up the daughter of a civil servant and a well-educated mother. Her path as a child followed her dream–to become a doctor. She was the only female student in medical school, and was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. This notoriety was just the first time she drew the attention of people around the world. (Of course, now, thousands of schools bear her name!)

After earning her degree, she opened her own clinic, but also began work at an insane asylum, where she was drawn to the resident children in care. She noted that they were growing up in a sterile environment with little mental stimulation, and that they were constantly curious about the items around them, especially the smallest of things. Reflecting on this, she began pedagogical research and classes for these children, starting her refinement of many of the methods for which Montessori is today known. She soon began training other teachers, and became the co-director of an institution for children who had been deemed unable to be taught in the normal schools of the day.

Building a better future

Building a better future

It was not until 1906 that she began her Casa de Bambini, a school for some of Rome’s poorest children and the place that is considered the first Montessori school. There, she refined her ideas, that children want to understand the order in their world, they adore nature, especially the littlest things, and that they want to learn and happily correct their mistakes.

We Montessori teachers are forever grateful for Dr Montessori’s caring and dedication to children, her lifetime of commitment to the youngest and most needy humans. Her ideas on education at the turn of the century were so prescient. They have been confirmed again and again by the leading pedagogues of the 20th century. Find out more about Maria Montessori.

We are Worthy

MM quote on enthusiasm of learning together