Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

Maria Montessori was born in Italy on August 31st, 1870. The first Italian woman to complete studies in medicine, she obtained her diploma in 1897. She then became a natural science and philosophy graduate and was appointed assistant at the psychiatric clinic of the University of Rome.

Two years later, Maria Montessori accepted the role of head at a new crèche in the suburbs of Rome. Always putting her ideas and observations into practice, she developed her teaching method and the Montessori material, still used today in all Montessori schools world-wide. She examined and studied the natural abilities of young children for concentration and observation, as well as their spontaneous desire to learn and discover.

Encouraged by the progress she observed, Maria Montessori devoted her time entirely to her educational method and to teaching. Her work aimed at a scientifically proven and solid basis for the education of children at all ages, which can be evaluated constantly. From 1904, as her observations and experience with children increased, she took part in many medical and pedagogical congresses to make the results of her research known. She founded the first Montessori school in 1907.

In 1917, Maria Montessori was invited to the United States to give lectures in San Francisco. Five thousand people attended, and a Montessori Association was created.

In 1918 , the Montessori National Work was founded in Italy and Maria Montessori started training teachers to the new educational method. Since then, the « Children’s Houses» have spread throughout the world.

1929: with her son Mario, she founds the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), which has it’s headquarter in Amsterdam.

1933-1934: the Montessori schools are forbidden and closed, first in Germany, then in Italy.

1039-1946: Maria et Mario Montessori depart for India. They aren’t allowed to leave the country until the war is over, and lead several training course in different towns.

1949: first nomination for the Nobel Peace Price (again in 1950 et in 1951).

Maria Montessori dies May 6 1952 in Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands.

In 2017, the 28e International Montessori Congress took place in Prague, with the participation of 1800 people coming from 72 countries.