The Montessori Method

The Method is in short "see the child" as Maria Montessori said when asked about the method. It is essential that the teacher understands the needs of the child to be able to arrange an environment that will challenge the child in its effort to learn about our wonderful world. Maria Montessori also concentrated upon the goal of education rather than the methods.

Maria Montessori lived 1870-1952. She studied in a technical school before she started her medicine studies. In 1896 she became the first female physician in Italy. Then she became a member in a research team that studied children that were mentally retarded. Maria Montessori was deeply upset about the situation for the children. She became the leader of an institute for mentally retarded children.

She used practical materials that she had learnt about from other researchers such as the frenchmen Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin. The results of Maria Montessori's work was obvious to everyone - the children grew confident and they learnt to read and write so they could do the exam in the normal school and they did well. In 1907 Maria Montessori was asked to open a kindergarten in a slum area in Rome. 

This became a starting point for practising her method. In the first kindergarten she devoped the method of observing the children in order to understand their needs. Later on she was asked to open a new kindergarten in different areas and in different countries. She also started to have teacher's courses.

At the world exhibition in San Fransisco 1912, she had a little classroom and children who worked there. Educators all over the world became interested and intrigued by her method and her results.

In 1939 Maria Montessori travelled to India to have courses for teachers. When in India the war broke out and Maria Montessori had to stay there during the war. When the war was over Maria Montessori travelled all over the world to have courses and to speak at congresses. She died in 1952 in Holland where she had her last home. In Amsterdam her home is still used by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).

The content in this article is mainly from the following books: Paul Polk Lillard, Montessori Today, Schocken Books, New York, 1996 and Kristina Skjöld Wennerström och Maria Bröderman Smeds, Montessoripedagogik i förskola och skola. Natur och Kultur, 1997.