InterpretiveTeacher Biography of Maria Montessori
MariaMontessori was a physician and an educator who lived between 1870 and1952. She was an Italian woman who started the education method ofMontessori for little kids (Renee, 2016). In 1984 she became thefirst lady to get a degree in medical Education in her country. Shewas recognized for her major contributions to the progress of theearly childhood learning. As well, she was endorsed for sustainingimportant reforms in the education field that are still in practiceup to now. These modifications in education include the appreciationof the connection between children’s ability to learn and theiremotional development, the stages of children’s cognitivedevelopment, the importance of hands-on or concrete edification andvarious learning’s pathways (American Montessori Society, 2016).Also, she made a valuable input to the worldwide human rightsconcerning the roles and rights of children and women in the societyby recognizing the significance of the initial six years of kids andtheir unlimited potential regardless of social class, gender or race.
Shewas born in Italy (Ancona,) in the year 1870 in one of themiddle-class and educated family at that time. The society that shewas brought up observed strict traditions and conservativesconcerning gender roles, classism, social and political aspects whichnegatively affected her professionalism (American Montessori Society,2016). Women’s roles were fixed to homemaking and caring of thefamily while different classes set different people into certainjobs. For instance, stumpy class daughters were entitled to do jobssuch as domestic, farming and factory after finishing their primaryschool while middle- class could become nurses and primary schoolteachers. However, Montessori challenged the existing gender preceptsat that time and followed her passion for health education.
Shejoined a primary community school in 1876 at the age of six yearswhere she was awarded two certificates of women work and healthybehaviors at the completion of the first grade. Her secondary schooleducation was more successful than primary schooling because shegraduated with excellent examination results and healthy behaviors.She was superb in all sciences, and due to that, she truly wanted tostudy engineering at the University, but it was discouraged in thesociety at that time for female students to study such courses.Nevertheless, she decided to study medicine but unfortunately herdecision was discouraged. Therefore, she opted to enroll in NaturalSciences Degree Program at Rome University and graduated in 1892.
Shehad not lost her interest in medical studies and so when shegraduated with a degree in Natural Sciences plus other Latin andItalian studies, she was accepted to join the Medical program.Joining the program did not end the discrimination and hostilityamong the male professors and students because she was the only ladyin the program. The male counterparts argued that attending a classwith her in the presence of a nude corpse was wrong (AmericanMontessori Society, 2016). Therefore, she was separated from theclass and forced to do the dissections of the dead body alone. Due tothe effect of separation and bad smell of formaldehyde, she opted touse tobacco. In spite of the harassment she faced, she won anacademic award in her first year at the University. As well, sheworked as hospital helper to gain clinical experience. During herfinal years in the college, she premeditated psychiatry andpediatrics and worked as the consultant in emergency and pediatricrooms. Thus, despite studying in a society that discriminated womanespecially in pursuing higher education, she studied and excelled inscientific and medical training and graduated in 1896 and became thefirst lady to obtain a degree in Medical Program in Italy and thiswas a major turning point in her life.
Followingher graduation, Montessori proceeded with her research at theUniversity of Rome and later started working as an assistant doctorin the Clinic of the university. It was during this time that shecame across mentally impeded children and became interested instudying, helping and teaching the children. Further, Maria studiedseveral works on education theory of different educators andphysicians such as Seguin and Card which profoundly influenced herexertion. Out of the multiple works she read, the ideas of Iterad andSeguin directed her to a new direction of creating an organized andan accurate system of learning methods applicable to children withlearning inabilities.
Mariamade another turning point by opting not to marry and deciding toproceed with her professionalism. She had a love relationship withMontesano Giuseppe who was a fellow doctor and a co-director in theSchool of Orthophrenic in Rome. Out of this relationship, she bore ason called Mario Montessori in 1898 (American Montessori Society,2016). However, Maria could not get married to him because gettingmarried meant to leave her professional work to serve marital lifewhich could shut up her passions and dreams. Although she wanted toremain in the relationship as long as Montesano did not engage inanother lady, her expectations did not come true because Montesanogot married to another woman. As a result, she felt betrayed anddecided to move out of the hospital university, and also she left herson under the care of a foster family in the countryside where shevisited them often to manage her work and studies. Therefore, at thatperiod it was difficult for a woman to manage family life and workand the option were to leave one and proceed with the other and Mariaopted for education life.
Laterin 1900, Maria became the director of the school of Orthophrenic inthe same university to train teachers to teach and handle childrenwith mental disabilities. Here she got the opportunity to train theteachers her methods in handling the kids and the training wassuccessful such that she attracted government officials to like hermethods. Between 1902 and 1906 Maria concentrated on further studieswhere she studied education philosophy and anthropology, conductedexperimental and observations research in primary schools, revisitedthe Seguin and Itard’s work and translated them into Italian(Montessori, 2013). In that particular time, she started consideringacclimatizing her methods of enlightening mentally disabled togeneral education. Maria published several scientific pedagogieswhich contributed much to her lecture’s work in the pedagogicschool. She adopted a rather different and unique approach toteaching the children as a well-skilled scientist contrary to theintuitive and theoretical exploration used by many educationinnovators before and after her. She named the plan after herself the“Montessori Method” (Montessori, 2013). The method was used toteach mentally impeded children, but she concluded that it could aswell be applied to healthy kids. This technique involved placing thecentral focus to the child while using teacher and educationmaterials as the guideline to the child self-learning throughexperiments.
Montessorineeded to experiment her methods with normal children in theelementary school, but her request was denied. However, she foundanother opportunity in a day-care (The children’s house) ofchildren aged 2-4 years located in the worst slum area in Rome(Montessori, 2013). The class consisted of about 50 kids under thecare of inexperienced caretaker. Also, the kids could come cryingevery morning showing resistance behaviors and could remain in theroom from morning to the evening. She wondered whether her methodswould work in such conditions, but determined to succeed she startedto train the older children how to assist in every-day tasks andtaking care of themselves and the little ones. Then she set her work,and surprisingly the work attracted the kids unlike the case of thedisabled children. Each day, the children become very motivated tolearn new things, and within a few days their behaviors had changedcompletely, and this case attracted the press, and it was made publicthat the street urchins were running wild to become models ofcourtesy and grace (Montessori, 2013). She was very surprised andremarked "I followed these children, studying them, studied themcarefully, and they taught me how to teach them" (Montessori,2013). After learning the life skills, they started begging to betaught how to read and write, and after a short period they couldmanage to do advanced mathematics, and in that case, she commentedthat ”this is what they do when given the correct setting andopportunity”(Montessori, 2013).
Mariaspent her rest of life devoted to progress her kid-centered approachto education. She read widely, wrote many books and articles andcontinued to discover the learning abilities of the kids and putthose discoveries into books such as the Child Discovery and TheSecret of The Childhood among others (Renee, 2016). For instance inthe Child Discovery, Maria wrote: “A child in his earliest years,when he is only two or a little more, is capable of marvelousaccomplishments merely through his insensible power of incorporation,though he is himself still immobile” (Montessori & Johnstone,2013).She also pointed out in the book From Childhood to Adolescencethat “to establish the relation between things is to bringknowledge while to teach details is to bring confusion”(Montessori,2013). Additionally, she developed a program to train teachers in theMontessori Method. She also traveled widely in different places inthe world lecturing, demonstrating and setting up classes for kids touse the method. For instance, she traveled to the USA in 1915 to setup the classroom in San Francisco for a group of children unfamiliarwith the Montessori Method and many viewers watched them through aglass wall for four months (Montessori & Johnstone, 2013). Thesekids demonstrated the high level of intelligence, and they were onlykids that were awarded gold medals at that particular time. And thiswas another turning point which led to the full acceptance of hermethod in the educating young children.
Shealso traveled to Spanish in 1917 to open a research institute, and by1919 she started a succession of teachers’ training courses inLondon (American Montessori Society, 2016). She was then appointed asa government inspector of schools in Italy, and by 1925 she openedabout one thousand Montessori schools in America. In 1934 she wasforced to leave Italy due to conflict from Mussolini’s fascism(American Montessori Society, 2016. This conflict gave her anotheropportunity to travel to other places likes Barcelona and India. InIndia, she founded many training teacher courses. Although hermission was affected by civil and World War II, she did not stop shecontinued with her training sessions until the war ended. During thewar period, she established a program for Education for Peace whichearned her 3 Nobel Peace Prices (Renee, 2016). She immediatelyreturned to London after the war ended and in 1952 she died at an ageof 76 years in Noordwijk. Despite her death, her work went on throughthe Montessori International Association which she had started backin 1929 at Amsterdam in Netherlands led by her son
AmericanMontessori Society (2016). Maria Montessori biography and history.Retrieved October 30, 2016, from American Montessori Society.https://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/History-of-Montessori-Education/Biography-of-Maria-Montessori
Montessori,M. (2013). Montessori Method: Scientific Pedagogy as Applied to ChildEducation in the Children`s Houses with Additions and Revisions. ReadBooks Ltd.
Montessori,M., & Johnstone, M. A. (2013). The discovery of the child:Revised and enlarged edition of The Montessori method. Delhi: AakarBooks.
Renee,P. (2016). Maria Montessori. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from NAMTA,http://www.montessori-namta.org/Maria-Montessori
Montessori,Maria. 2014. The Montessori Method (1912). Mineola, NY: Dover.