Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first woman in Italy to ever qualify to be a doctor. She was interested in engineering and mathematics, organic chemistry, botany, zoology and linguistics, and she received honorable mentions in all these fields of study. In pediatrics, her specialty, Maria developed an interest in children with learning disabilities (which nowadays are diagnosed with an endless number of deliberate titles), and argued that perhaps educating teachers in the Froebelian system was just as important as educating children.

Also influenced by Rousseau and Pestalozzi, Montessori developed the educational principle she propounded: “first the education of the senses, then the education of the intellect”. This program allowed “faulty” children, as those who had attention or hyperactive disorders were referred to at the time, to learn how to read and write. Maria’s method was based on the premise that “seeing becomes reading, touching becomes writing”.

The success of her work changed the world in the best way possible. To begin with, it led people to question “normal” education, and to recognize its mistakes. In Rome in 1907, she had the opportunity to put her method to the test when the first Casa dei Bambini was establishedThis house, and those that followed, were designed to offer a warm environment where children could live and learn. It emphasized self-determination and self-realization. Its educational program relied on practical exercises, which were then used as a ladder that allowed children to pick their own challenges and judge their own progress. In The Absorbent Mind, Montessori states that “It is essential for the task to awaken such an interest that it will involve all of the child’s personality”.

Since then, the practice itself was directed, as if it were guided by a magnetic force, towards the absolute decentralization of the role played by the teacher. The teacher was the “guardian of the environment”, and used his or her skills and knowledge only to play this role.

The Montessori Method has a particularly strong echo with people who have different ways of understanding the world. Dyslexia, for example, was always misunderstood and seen as a learning “defect”, it became a quasi-attribute because of this method; one that appeals to difference as a human virtue.

Montessori was a powerful agent of change, not just for the future of education and tolerance, but for female empowerment as well. Even today, some of the most important virtues manifested in modern societies owe their existence to this true educator.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first woman in Italy to ever qualify to be a doctor. She was interested in engineering and mathematics, organic chemistry, botany, zoology and linguistics, and she received honorable mentions in all these fields of study. In pediatrics, her specialty, Maria developed an interest in children with learning disabilities (which nowadays are diagnosed with an endless number of deliberate titles), and argued that perhaps educating teachers in the Froebelian system was just as important as educating children.

Also influenced by Rousseau and Pestalozzi, Montessori developed the educational principle she propounded: “first the education of the senses, then the education of the intellect”. This program allowed “faulty” children, as those who had attention or hyperactive disorders were referred to at the time, to learn how to read and write. Maria’s method was based on the premise that “seeing becomes reading, touching becomes writing”.

The success of her work changed the world in the best way possible. To begin with, it led people to question “normal” education, and to recognize its mistakes. In Rome in 1907, she had the opportunity to put her method to the test when the first Casa dei Bambini was establishedThis house, and those that followed, were designed to offer a warm environment where children could live and learn. It emphasized self-determination and self-realization. Its educational program relied on practical exercises, which were then used as a ladder that allowed children to pick their own challenges and judge their own progress. In The Absorbent Mind, Montessori states that “It is essential for the task to awaken such an interest that it will involve all of the child’s personality”.

Since then, the practice itself was directed, as if it were guided by a magnetic force, towards the absolute decentralization of the role played by the teacher. The teacher was the “guardian of the environment”, and used his or her skills and knowledge only to play this role.

The Montessori Method has a particularly strong echo with people who have different ways of understanding the world. Dyslexia, for example, was always misunderstood and seen as a learning “defect”, it became a quasi-attribute because of this method; one that appeals to difference as a human virtue.

Montessori was a powerful agent of change, not just for the future of education and tolerance, but for female empowerment as well. Even today, some of the most important virtues manifested in modern societies owe their existence to this true educator.

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