Dr. Maria Montessori is the founder of Montessori Education. This is an educational philosophy founded on the firm belief that a child learns best within a social environment which thereby reinforces and promotes each individual's unique development pattern.
Montessori Education promotes a child's total development as it encourages all children to realize their full potential without pressure or competition. Children are free to challenge themselves at their own pace.
Therefore, Montessori education recognizes the individual potential in every child and guides each child to fully discover that potential.
As Dr. Montessori eloquently claims:
"Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future"
Hence, our task as educators is to enhance the potential of each child as an individual and consequently enable him/her to understand his/her world more fully.
History of Montessori
Montessori is an empirical discipline aiming to study and to help the development of the human individual from birth to maturity within the context of his life-situation. It is an educational method insofar as education is an integrative part of the formative process.
Dr. Maria Montessori, in discovering the role of the Child in the formation of Man, became its helper and its advocate. She thus generated a movement in which those involved in human sciences and their applications can find a coordinating factor in the resulting vision of man. Its impact within this broad and complex field has been considerable throughout the ongoing century.
Founder of Montessori Education
Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori Method, graduated from the medical school of the University of Rome in 1896, and was the first woman to practice medicine in Italy. As a physician, Dr. Montessori was very involved with the care of young children. Through scientific observation, she came to see how children interacted with one another, learned through the use of materials she provided, and went through specific phases of development. Her approach to education was developed based on her observations, in collaboration with her background in psychology and her belief in the education of children as a means to create a better society. She continued to observe children around the world, and found that the universal laws of development she had recognized were inherent to children of all races and cultures. The Montessori approach to education continues to be respected and practiced internationally.
The Association Montessori International
The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) is the oldest international Montessori organization in the world. It was founded by Dr. Maria Montessori herself in 1929. Her aims were two-fold, to safeguard her original contribution on behalf of the child against diluting influences, and to maintain the standards of training for those wishing to apply or to teach her methods at the academic level required to obtain the desired results.
Role of the Montessori Teacher
The role of a Montessori teacher is one of guide and observer, whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher builds an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and encourages the children in all their efforts, thus promoting self-confidence and discipline. With the younger students at each level, the teacher is more active, demonstrating the use of materials and presenting activities based on an assessment of the child's needs. Knowing when to observe and when, and how much, to intervene is a skill the Montessori teacher develops during a rigorous, specialized course of training at training centers throughout the world.