Maria Montessori (left) was born in Italy in 1870. From an early age, she was interested in mathematics and science. In 1896, she became the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome Medical School. Some of her first experiences as a trained physician were with children who lived in an asylum in Rome. In 1898, Dr. Maria Montessori was named the director of the State Orthophrenic School. In modern terms an orthophrenic school is a school geared toward educating children with mental and physical disabilities. To prepare herself for this new role as an educator, Dr. Montessori chose to study philosophy, psychology and anthropology. During her work, she became convinced that if she applied her teachings to typically developing children she would be able to "set free their personality in a marvelous and surprising way."
In 1907, Maria was asked to direct a daycare center in a housing project in the slums of San Lorenzo, Italy. She accepted the offer believing this was her opportunity to apply her methods to regular children. It was there that Casa dei Bambini (pictured above) was born. Within 3 years, Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) became well known around Europe. In the following years, Montessori began to travel from city to city, and country to country, teaching others how to implement her approach into their own schools.
Today, there are about 4,500 Montessori schools in the United States and about 20,000 worldwide. Dr. Maria Montessori was a visionary who believed that childhood should be treated as a sacred time in one's life. Her ultimate goal was to tackle the world's detrimental issues by teaching children how to respect each other, themselves and the environment. During her amazing life, she worked alongside Mahatma Gandhi and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Before her death in 1952, Maria, along with her son Mario, founded was is today known as the Assosication Montessori Internationale, where her research and teachings are continued.
Even though Montessori education has been around for more than 100 years, it continues to astound those who are just now beginning to learn it's wonderful ways. Many inspiring individuals who attended Montessori schools in their youth went on to change the world. It is incredible how each of them holds Montessori education responsible for their success.
Co-Founder of Google
"I think it was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self motivated, questioning what's going on and doing things a little bit differently."
"I do not believe there is a method better than Montessori for making children sensitive to the beauties of the world and awakening their curiosity regarding the secrets of life."
Creator of "The Sims"
"It's all about learning on your own terms, rather than a teacher explaining stuff to you. SimCity comes right out of Montessori."
"Structure is an absolutely important part of the creative life, and Emily [Yo Yo Ma's daughter] got this from her Montessori experience."
Watch this short video about how Montessori education has change the lives of Sephen Curry and his family.
The list of Montessori alumni is long, but here are a few you might be interested in:
Media Mogul, Sean 'Puff Daddy' Combs
Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales
Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos
former First Lady,
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Prince Harry & Prince William
“Today, however, those things which occupy us in the field of education are the interests of humanity at large and of civilization, and before such great forces we can recognize only one country - the entire world"
- Dr. Maria Montessori