Dr. Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome
Medical School in 1898. She became interested in education as she treated
the mentally deficient children in the city's asylums. She completed
further University studies and experimented with the poor children in the slums
of San Lorenzo in Rome.
Dr. Montessori used her medical training to bring this scientific theory to
her open-minded approach to education. She had rare insight into the
learning processes children go through. This insight led her to design
concrete learning materials, which promote manipulation and
self-discovery. we know them today as multisensory, sequential,
self-correcting Montessori materials.
Through her scientific approach and observations of children she devised what
came to be known as the "prepared environment". The environment
capitalizes on the child's "sensitive periods" in allowing them to
pursue whatever concept holds the greatest interest for them. She found a
child will absorb great quantities of information during these peak periods of
interest if properly presented with appropriate materials.
The most fundamental aspect of the Montessori method of education is the
philosophy of balance between freedom, discipline and respect.
In 1998 there were more than 4,000 Montessori schools in North America, both
private and public. There are countless others throughout the world, and
that number continues to grow.