Montessori education dates back to 1907, when Dr. Maria Montessori, one of Italy's first female physicians, opened a child-care center in Rome. Drawing on her previous work experiences, including scientific observations of young children, Dr. Montessori designed a unique learning environment and materials that fostered the students' natural desire to learn. They made gains that exceeded all expectations.
News of the success of the Montessori Method sparked the interest of educators worldwide and in the following decades, Montessori schools, for children of all ages, opened on every continent except Antarctica. There are now thousands of Montessori programs dotting the globe, with an estimated 5,000 Montessori schools, both public and private, in the United States alone.
The innovative premises that guided Dr. Montessori's work over 100 years ago are still embraced by Montessori educators today and are continually confirmed by contemporary research:
Children are to be respected as different from adults and as unique individuals, each developing at his or her own pace, according to specific developmental stages.
The most essential life skills, such as language development, are acquired from birth to age 6 and honed in the elementary and secondary years.
Children learn through purposeful activity.
Children possess unusual sensitivity and cognitive abilities for absorbing and learning from the people and things in their environment.
People who have been touched by Montessori comprise a gloriously diverse group. Montessori alumni in the public eye include: Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page; Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon; Will Wright, creator of The Sims and Spore computer games; actors Lee Thompson Young and Helen Hunt; and singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.
Montessori offers an education for life – and with that come the skills needed to succeed in our ever changing global society. It is no coincidence that many of the mavericks on the leading edge of creativity and innovation in our culture are Montessori graduates. To the millions of Montessori students, families and supporters around the world, the answer is obvious.
There is something about the Montessori approach that nurtures creativity and inventiveness that we can all learn from. Your child's future might be much brighter with a little less conditioning to perform well on tests and more encouragement to discove. The Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia.
The basic idea in the Montessori philosophy of education is that every child carries unseen within him the man he will become. In order to develop his physical, intellectual, and spiritual powers to the fullest, he must have freedom – a freedom to be achieved through order and self-discipline. The world of the child is full of sights and sounds, which at first appear chaotic. From this chaos, the child must gradually create order, and learn to distinguish among the impressions that assail his senses, slowly but surely gaining mastery of himself and his environment.