Biography of Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.
–Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. She was a math prodigy, a physicist, and an anthropologist. At 24, she was the first woman to graduate from the medical school in Rome. She was a pragmatist, a visionary, and a humanitarian; a friend of Gandhi and Thomas Edison; a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Her face is on Italy’s 1,000 lire bill. Today, we know Maria Montessori best for the educational method that bears her name.

Her approach to education was developed based on her observations in conjunction with her background in psychology and her belief that the education of children was the means to create a better society. She observed children around the world and found that the laws of development she had recognized in Italy were universal and inherent in children of all races and cultures. The Montessori approach to education continues to be respected and practiced internationally today.