Who was Maria Montessori?
Born in Chiaravalle, Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori became Italy's first female doctor in 1896. She then became the director of the speech therapy school in Rome, which welcomes deficient children. Ignorant of pedagogy, she studied the work of two French doctors, J.Itard and E.Seguin (the first became famous for his work on the case of "the wild child, Victor de l'Aveyron", the second developed a complete pedagogical method for teaching "idiot" children).
Passionate about their work, she had the material developed by Séguin reproduced and used it successfully with the children at the school.
She continued her studies in the fields of philosophy, psychology and anthropology and became professor of anthropology at the University of Rome.
Passionate about education, she opened the first "Children's House" in San Lorenzo in 1907. She started from the conviction that traditional education hinders the development of children by forcing them to bend to a framework designed by and for adults.
The natural tendency of young children (3 to 6 years old) is to imitate adults, often they are given toys that only allow them to "pretend". Therefore, she started by having furniture and tools made that were adapted to the size and strength of the children so that they are really given free rein to their desire to imitate.
It is almost by chance that she provides these young children the Séguin equipment designed for much older deficient children. She then noticed that the children were naturally attracted by the material and that they learning came effortlessly and with ease.
This discovery is the starting point of his "scientific pedagogy", based on the observation of children left free to move and carry out their activities in an environment adapted to them.
Right up until her death in 1952, she continued to advocate in favor of a more thoughtful consideration of the specificity of each child. Her ideas were widely celebrated, resulting in hundreds of "children's houses" throughout the world.