More Than a Hundred Years Ago……….

In 1907, Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian educator, physician, and scientist, set up a childcare centre in San Lorenzo, a poor, inner-city district of Rome.  The centre,” was called Casa Dei Bambini—Italian for “Children’s House”. Maria was determined to create a beautiful learning space for these unschooled children.

The children were unruly and reluctant initially but soon became enthusiastic about puzzles, cooking and caring for their environment. Eventually, the children became calmer and started enjoying the lessons. She observed that the children learnt from their surroundings.

Dr. Montessori then developed a curriculum that engaged the children completely as it tapped on the child’s natural desire to learn and explore.

More Casas came up and many people travelled to Rome to observe the “miracle children” who showed remarkable self-discipline and motivation.

Within a few years there were Montessori schools in 5 continents.

In 1909, Dr. Montessori published her first book. Its first 5,000 copies in English, titled The Montessori Method, sold out in 4 days.

By 1910, Montessori schools were being established around the world.

By 1914, many articles and books had been written about Montessori education. Dr. Montessori was called “an educational wonderworker.”

In 1917 she published “The Advanced Montessori Method”, describing her thoughts on the education of children ages 7 – 11. (The English title of the book is.)

Dr. Montessori went to China and India and Montessori “Casa dei Bambini” were simultaneously spreading throughout the world.

Her works were translated into almost every language and the Montessori school, still retaining its essential features, developed the spiritual seeds, the often-mystical vision of nature, the religious.

She believed that the child educated with full respect for their freedom with the principles she preached could ensure world peace.

At the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, 30 children attended school in a glass-walled Montessori classroom.

The glass classroom’s walls had extensive windows, inviting visitors to watch the goings-on inside. The students had an equally good view of the spectators, but they diligently attended to their work, winning admiration from all the spectators.

In the last years of her life, Dr. Montessori made significant contributions at UNESCO and founded the Educational Studies Centre in the University for Foreigners of Perugia.

She knew that for the world to change, we must begin with the youngest children. We now know that the scaffolded experiences she prescribed are supported by current research in child education and adolescent brain development. Her work can be practised even today by incorporating tools like mindfulness and gratitude, despite the impetus given to technology and the gaining popularity of AI enabled tools that are accessible.

It just takes the concerted efforts of us, the educators to bring in the balance between what’s real, natural and the virtual, make-believe worlds.

One simple thought for all of us :


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