Montessori Schools Celebrate First 100 Years
"Free the child's potential and you will transform both the child and the world." -- Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Maria Montessori 1870 - 1952
January 6, 2007 marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first Montessori school in Rome. Italy’s first woman physician and surgeon, Maria Montessori called her first early childhood classroom a Children’s House and as the world celebrated this anniversary, Montessori schools throughout the world continue to offer prepared environments for children from infancy through high school. Montessori’s ideas are even being successfully used with Alzheimer and stroke patients. There are now an estimated 22,000 Montessori schools in 110 countries serving more than a million children. Thousands more home school families also use Montessori.
Dr. Maria Montessori, whom the Ladies Home Journal called one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century, is a household name in many countries, with public, private and charter schools following her unique approach to education that focuses on the development and expression of each child’s individual potential.
Montessori’s views on education
What is the secret of the longevity of the Montessori Method? Perhaps it is to be found in the unique blend of successful academics plus a profound understanding of individual uniqueness. She conceived of education more broadly than the conveyance of facts and figures. It is to help life. “Our care of the children should be governed not by the desire to 'make them learn things', but by the endeavor always to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence.” She wrote: “I believe that the work of the educator consists primarily in protecting the [inner] powers and directing them without disturbing them in their expansion; and in the bringing of man into contact with the spirit which is within him and which should operate through him.”
This new way of thinking about education carries over to the preparation of teachers as well. “The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit.” Internationally recognized teacher preparation is available throughout the United States and in most other parts of the world.
Recent investigations conducted by the Universities of Virginia and Wisconsin demonstrate that Montessori kindergarten children outperformed control groups of peers in reading, math and social skills. The sequential hands-on materials found in every Montessori classroom assist children to gain clear concepts and move along at their own independent rate of development.
Growing Montessori movement
The number of Montessori schools is growing world-wide as people come to understand and appreciate the value of Maria Montessori’s approach. Montessori classrooms offer environments prepared with activities that correspond to internal development. When children are developmentally ready and are given opportunity and choice to use materials that correspond to their individual timetable of development, they proceed quickly and with great confidence. They demonstrate concentration, keen interest and calmness in learning.