Dr. Maria Montessori, born in 1870, was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology.

She believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a "blank slate" waiting to be written upon. Her aim was to show that if her special children, working with carefully structured materials, could achieve a standard approaching the national average, then other children working with the same material could reach an even higher academic standard.

In 1907 she opened her first Nursery (Casa Dei Bambibi or Children’s House), in a slum area of San Lorenzo. She was encouraged by her results that she began to share her discoveries with others by publishing books and giving lectures: thus the Montessori method of education was born in 1946. After her death in 1952, her innovative system was carried on by many centers. Currently, her method of education is being used all over the world.

 

The differences between Montessori nurseries' system and traditional nurseries' system:

Montessori Nursery

Traditional Nursery

Emphasis on cognitive and sociable development

Emphasis on social development

Teacher has the role of a facilitator in class

Teacher has a controlling role

Environment and methods encourage self-discipline

Teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline

Mainly individual instruction

Group and individual instruction

Mixed age group

Same age group

Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other

Most teaching is done by the teacher

Child chooses own work

Curriculum is already set and structured for the child

Child discovers own concepts from self- teaching materials

Child is taught the concepts by the teacher

Child works as long as he wishes on chosen activity

Child has a certain time to finish a certain task

Child sets own learning pace

Instruction pace usually set by group

Child spots own error by feedback of material

If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher

Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success

Learning is reinforced externally by repetition and rewards

Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration

Fewer materials for sensory development

Organized program for learning care of self and environment (cleaning, sitting and eating properly etc…)

Less emphasis on self-care instruction