THE MONTESSORI PHILOSOPHY

Montessori is a scientific method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori (the first female physician in Italy), for educating children from infancy through high school. Dr. Montessori was a scientist who dedicated over 50 years to observe thousands of children to fine-tune her approach based on how children reacted to the pedagogy and curriculum offered to them.

Dr. Maria Montessori was a pioneer in the concept of education. Born in the town of Chairavalle, Italy in 1870, and graduating from medical school in 1896, her medical practice and clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn and build themselves from what they find in their immediate environment. Dr. Montessori opened her first Montessori school (Casa dei Bambini) in the slums of Rome in 1907. When Dr. Montessori’s slum children outperformed their middle-class peers in school entrance exams, her method quickly drew attention in Italy and abroad. Today, close to an estimated 20,000 schools practice the Montessori approach world-wide.

The Montessori educational philosophy believes that the educational method, to be effective, must support and address the nature of the child. The nature of the child is not a theoretical construct, but based upon detailed observation of the child. Children are dynamic, curious, and have an inner need to know the world, and a Montessori classroom provides a multitude of fascinating materials to enhance this learning process. Essentially, the child constructs knowledge through physically manipulating the environment. The physical manipulation, or handling of the environment, allows the child to construct mental images. Mental images lay the foundation for later abstractions. The Montessori teacher does not teach, but rather provides experiences for the child to construct mental images.

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