The teacher of happy children
Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy in 1870, and she became the first woman to receive a degree in medicine from the University of Rome, Italy in 1896. As a physician, Dr. Montessori was in touch with young children, and she became profoundly interested in their development. Through years of careful and exhaustive scrutiny of children across races and cultures, Dr. Montessori saw that children construct their own personalities through the choices they make while interacting with their environment. She closely observed the manner in which children learn, through watching them work with the developmental materials she created over time. Those materials were designed to enable children to teach themselves, through their own, proactive efforts of exploration. Her conclusions were founded on a solid grounding in biology, psychiatry and anthropology, and grew into a rich, integrated approach to education. She continued her observations throughout her life, widening and deepening her understanding of child development and pedagogy until her death in 1952.
After living through two world wars, Dr. Montessori became profoundly concerned with the question of peace. She wrote, “Establishing a lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” She was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and captivated the attention of the greatest minds of her day like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Rabindranath Tagore and Mohandas Gandhi. Today, Dr. Montessori’s philosophy of peace is still highly relevant in a constantly changing and unstable world.