Dr. Maria Montessori (150 years) birth anniversary

Today we celebrate the Sesquicentennial (150 years) birth anniversary of Dr. Maria Montessori who founded the most innovative method of education that is capable of unraveling the potentials of children in the most natural way without hindering their independence and without obscuring their uniqueness. The Montessori Method as it is popularly known as has taken the place as the most effective education system, a fact that is being acknowledged by more and more countries.

In these pandemic times when the education system all over the world has come to a complete standstill with the physical school, environments are closed to children, the Montessori method provides the continuity in learning where children are given the adaptive environment at home that is similar to the Montessori school scenarios. Though various online methods are being followed, the Montessori Method is looked upon as the most successful method as it does not expose the children to gadgets or keeps them glued to the screen of laptops or mobiles for a long period.

As we celebrate the 150th birthday of this novel creator of this noble education method it would only be just to know how Dr. Maria Montessori came to create this method for children and the challenges she encountered in this epic journey. We only hope that this method of education can be adapted as a mainstream educational method by more countries to build a future generation that will comprise of individuals who will be constructive in nature and bring about the formation of the universal brotherhood.

Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori Method of education, also an Italian physician was born on 31 August 1870, in Chiaravalle, a provincial town of Italy to a father who worked as a financial manager and a mother who came from a highly educated family which was a rarity in those times. The avid reading habit of her mother inspired Maria in taking interest in learning that later became a thirst for knowledge. Her early childhood days in Rome were spent in the finest schools, Libraries, and museums across this city that had its own treasures of learning.

Though she was rejected the first time she applied for a Medical Program at the University of Rome, the perseverance of the will to study what she wanted, finally secured a place for her to successfully graduate as a physician in 1896. This was a great achievement for a woman during those days when male dominance was prominent in all the fields and suppression of women as mere homemakers. This achievement of Maria Montessori inspired the women to pursue professional careers as days progressed.

Though assigned to psychiatry at the start of her medical practice, her interest gradually shifted to education which pushed her to attend classes on pedagogy. As she was learning, she came to understand the flaws in the teaching methodologies which had numerous intellectual and developmental disabilities. She was on the lookout for finding remedial measures to counter these disabilities and her opportunity came when she took over as a co-director of a new training institute in 1900. During her tenure there, she scientifically approached the task of educating children with innovative methods and carefully observed the impact they had on children which turned out to be very successful.

In 1907, under challenging circumstances, Maria opened a full day-care center in San Lorenzo, CASA DE BAMBINI that housed children of ages 3 – 7, who were ill-cared and had been managing themselves as their parents were working. Little did she know at that point, that she was trendsetting a revolutionary learning method for children that is going to be a Universal force that is capable of altering the education system in a beneficial way for children to learn with joy.

The unruly behavior of the children at CASA DE BAMBINI in the beginning gradually relented giving way to a curiosity for solving puzzles, interest in the preparation of meals, and exploring the learning materials designed by Maria. The truth of children absorbing knowledge from the environment enthralled Maria and she started to build on this which later came to be known as the Montessori Method.

Maria, in the succeeding years, traveled a lot delivering lectures, writing articles and books that always highlighted the importance of child-centered education. She was also relentlessly campaigning for the welfare of women that inspired her to develop a specialized program to prepare teachers in the Montessori Method that had been accepted worldwide.

During the times of World Wars I and II, Maria was disturbed by the havoc and repercussions that can be caused by hostilities between countries. She contemplated a lot on the destruction wars can bring and meticulously added Peace Education in the Montessori Method. She herself became a victim of the war as she was forced to live in exile during the Second World War, an opportunity that gave her time to visit many countries of which India was one.

During her Indian stay as an ‘Enemy Alien’, she set about establishing a training center for teachers at the Theosophical Society of India, in Chennai, a Metropolis in the southern Indian state of Tamilnadu. She later went on to stay in Kodaikanal, a hill county, also in the Tamilnadu state about 600 km from Chennai. It was her sojourn in Kodaikanal that inspired her to rewrite the Elementary and the adolescent curriculum of the Montessori Method. As Maria started to explore the landscape of this wildlife sanctuary, nature revealed its secrets in a very discreet way that only Maria Montessori could fathom and give it a concrete structure for the children of the future to understand the mysteries of nature with comfortable ease. She describes her stay at ROSE BANK villa in Kodaikanal in her journal ‘The Kodaikanal Experience’ which makes this Princess of hills stations a much sought after pilgrimage center for all Montessorians.

Having given her everything for the education of children and betterment of the women’s place in the society, she was also regarded as a Champion who always had universal brotherhood and respect to all living beings in her thoughts and deeds. Maria Montessori, the founder of one of the noblest forms of education to children, died in peace on 6 May 1952 in Amsterdam.

To establish Maria Montessori’s legacy of the Montessori education universally, Montessori Worldwide Web (montessoriworldwideweb.com) strives to take forward the ideals of this Universal Icon of Education to all children, thereby creating an atmosphere where there is always ‘Joy in Learning’.

Previous PostThe Montessori Skylark
Next PostPay it Forward