On this day in 1907, Maria Montessori opened her first school in Rome, called the Casa dei Bambini, or ‘Children’s House’. Based on an educational system promoting and emphasising independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, the Montessori approach has been adopted widely over the past century. It is currently practiced in approximately 20 thousand schools worldwide.
While the Montessori principles have been applied for children from birth to the age of 18, the most popular age group for this approach is the 3-6 year old category. This age, when children are at their most naturally inquisitive, and the world is one great place of wonder, learning and exploration, is particularly suited to the Montessori philosophy. Learning is not differentiated from playing, as this is an age where we very much learn through play.
According to the American Montessori Society (AMS), the teaching approach holds numerous benefits. Quoting the AMS website, “Given the freedom and support to question, to probe deeply, and to make connections, Montessori students become confident, enthusiastic, self-directed learners. They are able to think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly—a skill set for the 21st century.”
Thinking about it, I wish more people retained this probing, enthusiastic and inquisitive mindset further into their adult lives, instead of becoming closed-minded and stuck in their ways as soon as they enter adult life.
Maria Montessori firmly believed that responsible education was the basis for peace, saying “Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education” (1963). For her contribution to education and peaceful development, she has received no less than 6 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.