Supposing I said there was a planet without schools or teachers, study was unknown, and yet the inhabitants – doing nothing but living and walking about – came to know all things, to carry in their minds the whole of learning: would you not think I was romancing? Well, just this, which seems so fanciful as to be nothing but the invention of a fertile imagination, is a reality. It is the child’s way of learning. This is the path he follows. He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so passes little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.” (Maria Montessori)
Dr Maria Montessori was born in 1870. She studied medicine at the University in Rome and in 1900 went back to the same University to pursue her interest in psychology and education. Montessori decided in 1913 to give up both her lectureship at the university and the medical profession and went on to set up her first Children’s House in Rome in 1907. Montessori’s observations made her believe that children were capable of extended periods of concentration, they enjoyed repetition, freedom of movement and choice and enjoyed purposeful activities and it was discoveries such as these that led her to believe that these characteristics in children represented the potential of humanity. She advocated that all children should be given the opportunity to ‘reveal themselves’ in a developmentally appropriate environment that would facilitate their natural growth.
Maria Montessori went on to devote her energies to the training of Montessori teachers, to the development of Montessori learning materials and to the establishment of the Montessori network worldwide. Between 1907 and 1914 interest in Montessori education flourished and many opportunities were opened to Montessori to promote her unique view of children and their learning. By 1914, there were hundreds of Montessori schools established in Europe, North and South America as well as India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Montessori died in the Netherlands in 1952 wanting to be known as a citizen of the world.