Maria Montessori (1870-1952) – Italian doctor. The world’s first woman to create laws for children. She specialized in psychiatry. Early in her career, she worked with children with intellectual disabilities. She experimented by offering children educational materials that allowed them to explore their environment through their senses – with highly positive results. In 1907, she used her knowledge and experience by opening the Casa dei Bambini (Children’s Homes) for children hailing from one of Rome’s poorest neighborhoods, San Lorenzo. At the Casa dei Bambini, children acquired respect for their environment, confidence in themselves, and skills of independence and responsibility. Maria Montessori observed that young children were fascinated with letters and numbers at a very early age. They also exhibited deep concentration. Montessori continued to observe children, improved her educational materials, and shaped a method of education that soon extended to older children in many countries. Maria Montessori spread her approach to child development by traveling worldwide: from Italy to Argentina, Spain to England, and the Netherlands to India. She defended the rights of children. She was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. To this day, children of all ages and all over the world are being educated along the lines of Montessori pedagogy to grow into capable, creative and sensitive adults.
“The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers…”
“No one can be free unless he is independent. Therefore, the first active manifestations of the child’s individual liberty must be so guided that through this activity he may arrive at independence.”
“Social grace, inner discipline and joy. These are the birthright of the human being who has been allowed to develop essential human qualities.”