Most of us know about Montessori schools. Today we shall learn about how these came into being. If you are familiar with the term social entrepreneurship, you might as well make an intelligent guess, that starting Montessori schools was one of the best social entrepreneurship ventures in education to ever have been undertaken. It was started by Maria Montessori. She was an Italian physician.
While she did not have any particular mentor, she was very close to her mother who readily encouraged her contrary to her father who disagreed with her choice to continue education. Maria was an average student in schools but was often awarded certificates for good behavior. After graduating from University of Rome, Montessori continued her research at the University’s psychiatric clinic. As part of her work she visited asylums in Rome, where she observed children with mental disabilities, observations which were fundamental to her future educational work.
She also read and studied the works of the 19th century physicians and educators Jean Marc Gaspard Itard and Edouard Seguin, who greatly influenced her work. Maria was intrigued with Itard’s ideas and created a far more specific and organized way for applying them to daily education of children with disabilities. Montessori audited the University courses in pedagogy and read “all the major works on educational theory in past two hundred years”. She was a public advocate for creating facilities for children with disabilities. It was due to her sincerity and persuasion that an Orthophrenic school was formed for training teachers in educating mentally disabled children with an attached laboratory classroom.
The school was an immediate success attracting attention from all over the world. She left Orthophrenic school to continue her research in education. Her work work was widely appreciated and spread quickly by word of mouth. By the end of 1911, Montessori education had been officially adopted in public schools in Italy and Switzerland. Slowly it spread to various parts of globe.
Interment in India
Montessori gave a training course at the Theosophical Society in Madras. During her years in India Maria worked with her son on promoting the educational methods. While in India Montessori observed children and adolescents of all ages, and turned to the study of infancy and delivered a series of lectures which are now a part of a book by the name What You Should Know About Your Child.
With time the ambit of Montessori schools was widened. It focused on educating young children that stresses development of child’s own initiative and natural abilities, especially through practical play. And today as we all know, it is known for educating children of age group 2.5 or 3 to 6 years. If you ever have visited to any Montessori school, you would understand they are primarily like play schools but a much better version of them, and learning in it is fun and encouraging. Maria Montessori is fondly remembered as the woman who contributed to the world in the most amazing way and she was truly a visionary. Born to a common family, she grew up chasing a disability and successfully devising a solution to it. She opened about 4000 schools in her time, the current tally is humongous. Montessori schools contribute to the society in a significant way.