Since it was first practiced in 1907, the Montessori Method has helped children to thrive in their educational develop and transition into lifelong learners. Schools across the globe have adopted the Montessori philosophy and made it their own, allowing students reap the benefits of the legacy of Dr. Maria Montessori. This method of education focuses on cultivating independence and curiosity in order to facilitate learning and has a remarkable history that begins with singular passions of its namesake.
Dr. Maria Montessori
Born in 1870, Maria Montessori had a unique career path, defying gender stereotypes from the start by pursuing higher education and an eventual position in the sciences. While initially interested in a degree in engineering, Montessori instead chose to study medicine at the University of Rome. There, she was often met with resistance and harassment from her peers and instructors due to her gender, but nonetheless went on to publish her thesis and graduate as a doctor of medicine in 1896. From there, Dr. Montessori began her work with and advocacy for children at the Orthophrenic School of Rome which served children with intellectual disabilities. There, she conducted some of her initial observations into the behavior and cognition of children and developed some of the first learning tools of the Montessori Method.
Casa dei Bambini
Equipped with her experience and research from the Orthophrenic School, as well as further education at the University of Rome in pedagogy, in 1907, Dr. Montessori undertook the directorship of a new school for the children of working-class parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome, which she called the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House. At the Casa dei Bambini, Dr. Montessori applied and honed the concepts and practices she’d initiated early in her career, and which are now key tenets of the Montessori Method and philosophy. She replaced the heavy furniture with lightweight, child-size tables and chairs that the students could move in order to better manage and care for their environment; initiated self-directed learning and play; incorporated open space into the classroom, thereby encouraging students to move freely; and continued to enhance the learning tools the children accessed throughout the room based on their interests. By 1909, four more Case dei Bambini were opened in Italy, and Dr. Montessori conducted her first training for other instructors in the new pedagogical method that was quickly gaining attention and accolades.
The Spread of Montessori
During the rest of her career, Dr. Montessori would go on to lecture and provide teacher training throughout Europe and southeast Asia, and by 1936, Montessori societies and schools were founded in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Serbia, Canada, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, there are thousands of Montessori schools across the world, and thousands more students and parents who testify to their enthusiasm for the Montessori Method.
Hill Point Montessori is a preparatory school for ages 2-12 in West Hills, California. Using the principles and established by Dr. Montessori, our teachers and staff incorporate mixed age classrooms to encourage children to explore and develop at their own pace. Contact us today to schedule a tour.