Maria Montessori

Harsimran Makkad, Staff Writer

Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator. She was well-schooled and an avid reader, unusual for Italian women at this time. Montessori was also a confident and ambitious young woman, not limited by traditional expectations for women. At age 13, she went to an all-boys institute for engineering, but changed her mind and studied at the University of Rome’s Medical School. When she graduated in 1896, Montessori was one of Italy’s first female physicians.

Developing an interest in education, she attended classes on teaching, questioning the methods used for teaching children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 1907, she opened the first Montessori school – the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House – in Rome. Using careful observations, she designed learning materials and a classroom environment that built on the way the children naturally learned. The school was a success and by 1910, Montessori schools were admired and adopted worldwide. Currently, there are more than 22,000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries around the world.

Montessori traveled the world and wrote about her approach to education in the following years. She dedicated herself to advancing her child-centered teaching methods, developing a program to prepare teachers in the Montessori Method.