This is Dr. Maria Montessori.
She lived from 1870 to 1952, and during that time, Maria…
- Graduated from the University of Rome’s medical school – one of the first women doctors in Italy!
- Worked with mentally handicapped children and studied their physical and cognitive development
- Set up a classroom for young children in a slum in Rome, called “Casa dei Bambini” or “House of Children”
- Developed a method of education based on respecting the child’s natural desires for learning and taking into consideration their developmental capabilities
- Trained other teachers in her theories and practices, becoming world famous for her ideas
- Was separated from her only son at his birth due to the social expectations of her time (born out of wedlock) and was fiercely reunited with him when he became a teenager
- Was endorsed by American greats such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Helen Keller
- Wrote many books on child development and education, including her most famous – The Absorbent Mind
- Lived in India for eight years, where she met Mahatma Gandhi and solidified her belief that world peace could be achieved by educating the youngest children in the art of peaceful problem-solving
- Gave lectures around the world with her son Mario at her side, her champion through the end of her life
- Was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize no less than three times
Maria’s work continues today. It is estimated that there are about 4,500 Montessori schools in the United States and about 20,000 worldwide. It is impossible to evaluate the extent of her influence in both traditional homes and in modern parenting practices, but you can be assured that it is significant.
It is every day that I am in awe of the remarkable work she did for us, for our children, and for our futures. One hundred years ago, it was Maria’s turn to challenge the status quo and change the way children are perceived and treated by their caregivers. Now it is ours.
And without further ado I urge you to take the Montessori Challenge
In your lifetime, can you…
- Treat children with respect and admiration
- Be an observer of human nature – even your own
- Study current research and adapt your methods and ideas
- Stand up for what you believe in
- Choose peace over war
- Choose love over winning
You don’t have to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize to be a great human being. You don’t have to have all the answers, and you’re allowed to make mistakes. (Maria certainly made mistakes herself.) I’m not even asking that you emulate these ideals all of the time…but could you do it…sometimes?
I think I can