Maria Montessori is a legend in the education sector, and her influence lives on in the way pre-school children are taught today all over the world.
The Early Years
Maria Montessori was an extremely determined student. She originally joined an all-boys program in pursuit of graduate studies in engineering. Although she would later drop her passion for technology, she still pursued the sciences by enrolling into a medical school in Rome.
Upon graduation from medical school in 1896, she specialized in psychiatry, but it was not long before she discovered the shortfalls in education that prohibited mentally challenged children from learning naturally.
Maria Montessori was an avid reader, perhaps an influence from her parents who would be considered well educated at the time. Her father worked in a state-run institution as a financial manager while her mother came from a family that had high value for education.
Being brought up in Rome, and constantly surrounded by libraries, fine schools, and museums, Maria’s desire for education would deepen further as she grew up.
Maria did not look up to any particular individual but drew a lot of strength from her mother who was the great-niece of Antonio Stoppan, an Italian geologist, and paleontologist.
The Introduction of Psychiatry
Maria's love for children began while working at the University of Rome’s psychiatric clinic as a volunteer researcher.
She would observe children whose mental capabilities were challenged and through studying the works of two 19th-century physicians, Édouard Séguin and Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard, Maria created a focused and well-structured teaching program.
When she opened schools to impact her direction on children, people started to notice that her students paid more attention in class, were self-disciplined and exhibited high concentration.
Soon, she adopted the use of teaching aids, which proved successful because children gained reading and writing proficiency way faster than had been expected of them.
Spreading the Montessori Method
In the early years of the 1900s, Maria thought of spreading her teaching method to other teachers and went ahead to conduct the first-ever teacher training course in the Montessori school system in 1909.
By 1911, her popularity had grown to international levels causing her to give up her medical career to be able to devote more time to teaching. In her course, Maria utilized her experience with little children and how she observed them responding and interacting with the environment around them.
Today, more than 110 countries have embraced the Montessori school system for preschool education, and it is among the world's best teaching programs in both private and public schools.