Frequently Asked Questions about Montessori education:


Dr. Maria Montessori, internationally renowned child educator, was originally a medical doctor who brought the scientific methods of observation, experimentation, and research to the study of children, their development and education. As a doctor, Montessori came to believe that many of the problems of the children with whom she was working were educational rather than medical. In examining education she felt that children were not achieving their potential because education was not based upon science. Her first step, then, was to attempt to abandon preconceived ideas about education and to begin to study children, their development and the process of learning through scientific methods of observation and experimentation. In doing so, she made what she considered to be a number of startling discoveries. Through her research, she discovered that children possessed different and higher qualities than those we usually attribute to them

Maria Montessori was an individual ahead of her time. She was born in 1870 in Ancona, Italy, to an educated but nonaffluent middle class family. Her desire to help children was so strong, however, that in 1906 she gave up both her university chair and her medical practice to work with a group of sixty young children of working parents in the San Lorenzo district of Rome.

It was there that she founded the first Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House." What ultimately became the Montessori method of education developed there, based upon Montessori's scientific observations of these children's almost effortless ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings, as well as their tireless interest in manipulating materials.

Every piece of equipment, every exercise, every method Montessori developed was based on what she observed children to do "naturally", by themselves, unassisted by adults. Children teach themselves. This simple but profound truth inspired Montessori's lifelong pursuit of educational reform, methodology, psychology, teaching, and teacher training - all based on her dedication to furthering the self-creating process of the child.

Maria Montessori made her first visit to the United States in 1913, the same year that Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel founded the Montessori Educational Association at their Washington, DC, home. Among her other strong American supporters were Thomas Edison and Helen Keller.

In 1915, she attracted world attention with her "glass house" schoolroom exhibit at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco. On this second U.S. visit, she also conducted a teacher training course and addressed the annual conventions of both the National Education Association and the International Kindergarten Union.

In 1940, when India entered World War II, she and her son, Mario Montessori, were interned as enemy aliens, but she was still permitted to conduct training courses. Later, she founded the Montessori Center in London (1947). She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times - in 1949, 1950 and 1951.

Montessori are practices based on the educational philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952). An Italian educator and reformer, she originated the Montessori method of education stressing development of initiative and freedom of the child. Dr. Maria Montessori helped children everywhere reach their maximum learning potential, while becoming well balanced individuals.

She was an astute observer of children and their development. Her methods of education, designed to stimulate the child's desire to learn, have been widely adopted by many other educational philosophers. The Montessori Method of Education aims to develop a child's concentration, co-ordination, independence, self-discipline, initiative, persistence in completing tasks, creative self-expression, orderliness, and desire to learn.

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