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To Madame Montessori,
"Even as you, out of love for children, are endeavoring to teach children, through your numerous institutions, the best that can be brought out of them... I hope that it will be possible not only for the children of the wealthy and the well-do-do, but for the children of the paupers to receive tranining of this nature..."
- Letter from Mahatma Gandhi
Dr. Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in Chiravalle, Italy. She was the first woman in Italy to graduate with a doctorate of medicine and through her graduate studies in educational philosophy, psychology and anthropology bgan her quest for educational reform. As she earned her doctorate, Dr. Montessori deduced that many of the challenges facing children from all backgrounds were the result of environmental and popular educational pedagogy, rather than any medical or physical issues. These observations became the inspiration for her child advocacy.
Dr. Montessori opened the first Montessori school, Casa dei Bambini (Italian for "Children's House"), in Rome, Italy on January 6, 1907. Her attention initially focused on children that were deemed "unable to learn", which usually meant poor and underpriviliged. However, continued observation and experience broadened the benefit of this educational approach to all children. Through her techniques, students exhibited calm, peaceful behavior, periods of deep concentration, and a sense of order in caring for their environment. She saw that the children absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves. Montessori education emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching and reading, which are more traditional approaches. Dr. Montessori developed specialized materials that enhanced learning through the senses and allowing children the mastery of skills at their own pace and according to their own choices of activities from hundreds of possiblities.
Recently celebrating its 100th anniversary, there are over 20,000 Montessori schools worldwide and over 5,000 in the United States, educating millions of students and subsequent business leaders. Proponents of the Montessori Method, such as Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, NBA athelete Steph Curry and the late PBS host Fred Rogers.
According to the American Montessori Society, "Given the freedom and support to question, to probe deeply and to make connections, Montessori students become confident, enthusiastic, self-directed learners. They are able to think critically, work collaboratively and act boldly."