Montessori education debuted in 1907 with Maria Montessori’s first school, the Casa dei Bambini, part of an urban renewal project in a low-income district of Rome. The school’s success resounded throughout Italy, and additional schools soon opened in Rome and Milan. In 1909 Dr. Montessori published her landmark book, Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica applicato all’educazione infantile nelle Case dei Bambini—known by its English-translation title as The Montessori Method.
By 1910, news of the innovative technique had spread beyond Europe, and teachers throughout the world were eager to learn it. Early Montessori educators were taught by Dr. Montessori herself. Her courses drew students from as far as Chile and Australia, and within a few years there were Montessori schools on 5 continents.
In the United States, the fledging movement caught on quickly. The first Montessori school opened in 1911 in Scarborough, New York, and others followed in rapid succession. Prominent figures, including Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, lent their support, and popular journals galvanized the public with articles on the “miracle children” who emerged from Montessori schools.
In 1916, more than 100 Montessori schools were operating in 22 states.
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American Montessori Society
Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori approach to education, was born in Italy in 1870. As a teenager she was determined to become an engineer, but later abondoned that idea in favour of studying medicine. Graduating as Italy's first female medical practitioner she embarked on a career in mental health.
This brought her into contact with children diagnosed as educationally subnormal, and excluded from the educational system. She devised special apparatus to help them learn through movement and achieved some remarkable results.
Following on from this she was asked to head up a childcare project for a social housing initiative and her first 'Children's House' opened in San Lorenzo, a suburb of Rome, in 1907. Here too she introduced the equipment she had designed and observed the children very closely as they used it, tailoring what she provided in the environment to meet their developmental needs. There was great astonishment at the amount of learning that these pre-school children showed themselves to be capable of, not least their explosion into 'writing'.
Responding to demands to explaining her 'method' Montessori began to write about her discoveries and to train people to work with children the way she advocated. From this time onward education became her life and she continued to develop educational theories to fit what she observed among the children in her care.
For the rest of her life she travelled extensively, training, teaching and lecturing around the world, increasingly convinced that it was only through effective education of the rising generation that universal peace could ever become a reality. She died in Holland in 1952, leaving an international legacy of Montessori schools and training centres around the world, all following the Montessori approach, transcending cultures, faiths, linguistic traditions and political systems.LEARN MORE >