Women Who Wow Us: Maria Montessori

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found out https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/let-a-childs-spirit-be-free-to-unfold-m-montessori/

Monday was WWW Us day, and it also happened to be Maria Montessori’s birthday.  Unfortunately,  I’ve been really slacking off on my blogging, so just two days late, here’s your weekly Women Who Wow us.
Maria Montessori was born on August 31st, 1870 in Italy.  She was raised middle class at a time when Italy, and the rest of the world held fairly strict gender roles. Despite this, though, she refused to fit into any boxes and, as a child and an adult, succeeded in many things thought at the time to be “masculine.”
Maria and her family moved to Rome when she was 14 and she began attending classes at a boys’ technical school, where she excelled in the sciences, especially biology. Her father never quite supported her, but her mother did. This continued into adulthood, when Maria went to the University of Rome and became the first female doctor in Italy.
Her choices of concentraion as a doctor were pediatrics and psychology, and she used these to treat children who came to the free clinic at her school. She made many observations on the psychology and intelligence of these children.
In 1900, Maria became the director of a school for developmentally disabled children and began to extensively research and observe early childhood development and education. Maria developed an education plan and practiced it within her school and found remarkable improvements in student development. She began talking and writing about her findings, and also use these speeches and paper to advocate for women’s and children’s rights.
After several years of success helping disabed children, the Italian government gave Maria the oppurtunity to help “abled” children. She was given charge of 60 low-income children from 1-6 years old. She tweaked her method where necessary and used it in her new school. This method is now referred to as the Montessori Method.
The Montessori Method refers to an environment where the teacher allows the student to learn what they would like, how they would like to learn it. One of her most famous quotes is, “The Greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, The Children are now working as if I don’t exist.
By 1925, The Montessori Method had gained great popularity all over the world, including in America. There were over 1,000 schools in the United States at it’s peak in 1925. They method eventually lost favor around 1940.
By then Maria had been forced to flee Italy and move to India, where she developed a program called Education for Peace. This program, and the work she did on it, earned her two Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
Maria Montessori died in 1952, in the Netherlands. In the 1960’s Montessori schools saw another bout of popularity, and there are many in the United States and all over the world still today. In fact, Montessori schools have recently been recognized as a major influence of many famous movers and shakers. Check out this video, where Google Founders talk about the influence a Montessori education had on them.
I’ve always loved Maria Montessori, and her system of education. I have learned a lot more about her while researching her for this post, and it’s been great! I hope you enjoyed learning, too!!
Until next time,
Stay Awesome

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