Montessori History, Part One

I’ve addressed many classroom topics in our weekly newsletter this school year, but you may also be interested in a bit of the history of Montessori education.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952)was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. In fact, she received both medical and surgical degrees with honors under unusual circumstances. (For ex.ample, she was not allowed to attend the dissection classes with the male students, so she had to go back to the lab at night, with her father as chaperone, to do this work on her own!) Upon graduating at age 25, she began working with institutionalized children and quickly discovered that when approached scientifically, with special, hands-on materials (such as those developed by a French doctor, Edouard Seguin, for working with deaf children), the children were soon able to pass public school examinations. She wondered whether children without emotional and mental challenges were to be offered similar materials, would they surpass their current accomplishments.

An opportunity arose for her to test her suppositions when the landlords of a tenement in Rome asked her to provide a school for the unsupervised children of all the working parents of the tenement.In 1907 she opened the first “Casadei Bambini” in San Lorenzo with 50 small children of the residents. The results were astonishing and captured the interest of the world.

In 1909 she wrote her first book about the experience, The Montessori Method. The first English translation sold out 5,000 copies in four days. By 1911 both Italy and Switzerland had adopted her methods for all public schools! By 1913there were over 100 private Montessori schools in America. In 1915, at the Pan-Pacific World’s Fair in San Francisco, she was invited to exhibit a model classroom with live working children. It was a huge hit with fair-goers.

Next week, in “Part Two”, I’ll share the subsequent history of why the early growth in America ceased, while the method spread world-wide and what started the slow rebirth of Montessori in this country.

Respect for the American Flag

On April 19, the elementary class had a guest, Mel Schwartzstein, are tired United States veteran, who taught the students proper etiquette for our country’s flag. They also learned to properly fold a flag into the traditional triangle.

Kindness Rock Project Grows

After the preschool class found a “kindness rock” last month, the elementary students decided to create their own kindness rocks to scatter about our town.

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