Imagine not being allowed to go to school or to only be allowed to read a bible and poetry and not much more? You are not allowed to hold anything more than the “Pin Money” that a man gives you for fun! And you are considered a belonging, an attachment not an independent human being responsible for your own actions and deeds.
This was the patriarchal world that Maria Montessori was born into on 31 August 1870, in Chiaravalle, near Ancona, Italy. Instead of bending to the will of others, or whining and moaning, she took control of her life. Overcoming numerous hurdles, she qualified as a Doctor from the University of Rome in 1896, specialising in paediatric medicine. She was the first woman in Italy to achieve this accolade.
Maria Montessori served as the first director in the State Orthophrenic School, while at the same time lecturing in Pedagogy and holding a chair in Anthropology at the University of Rome. These responsibilities did not hinder her continuing her studies in philosophy, psychology and education! All these studies and the experience gained formed the foundation of developing a Philosophy of Teaching that has impacted the world and continues to reverberate around the globe!
Fun Facts –
- Maria Montessori was nominated for a Nobel Prize on 3 separate occasions (1949, 1950 and 1951!) Many believed that she was passed over every time due to being too controversial.
- Maria Montessori was exiled from Italy by Mussolini because she would not allow her schools to be used to turn children into soldiers.
- Invited to the USA by Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and others, Dr. Montessori spoke at Carnegie Hall in 1915. She was invited to set up a classroom at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, where spectators watched twenty-one children, all new to this Montessori method, behind a glass wall, for four months.
Dr. Maria Montessori, in her publication “To Educate the Human Potential” states- “The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.” This phrase is reminiscent of another event that many school children will be discussing this week, that of Arbor week, which runs from 1st to 7th September this year.
Click on this link if you are interested in learning a little about the history of Arbor Week.