This article is a humble tribute to the great educator of all times, Dr. Maria Montessori. We are truly indebted and blessed to have a method of education that helps millions of children around the world to enjoy the journey of learning without facing competition or stress of any kind.
This method’s sole purpose is to develop young minds and help them work at their own pace.
Dr Maria Montessori was born in Italy and later went on to become a well-known educator. Her philosophy of education- which bears her name and her methods of educating – is in use today, both in public as well as private schools. Dr. Montessori was an extraordinarily gifted and a different child. She attended medical school, much against the wishes of her father and society, and went on to become the first lady doctor in Italy.
Being the member of a Psychiatric clinic, Dr. Montessori had to visit prisons to study the medical difficulties face by the female inmates, serving their sentences in them along with their children. The children of these women prisoners were weak and suffered from malnutrition, both due to deprivation of proper diet as well as absolute lack of intellectual development.
During one of her visits to the prison, Dr. Montessori noticed a frail, unhealthy and malnourished child observing a dried piece of grain on the floor instead of eating it. This incident was what made Dr. Montessori think about educating children with ‘special needs’ or those the society considered ‘uneducable.’
Another such instance involved the children of the labourers in a poor neighborhood. They were considered a nuisance and a hindrance to the peace and tranquility of that area and became a cause of difficulty for the labourers who could not attend to their daily work.
Dr. Montessori, in order to help these labourers, started a child care center in an old building in the poor neighborhood. She focused on teaching the children ways to develop their skills at their own pace. This resulted in happier children and tension free parents who could attend to their daily work without having to bother about them.
These two incidents made Dr. Montessori to believe that a healthy environment played a major role in child development. The success she had these occasions led her to starting a school for children, which she called ‘Casa dei bambini’ or ‘house of children.’
Later, she went on to devote a lot to the care and the education of mentally challenged children and put her educational theories to test. Her first notable success was when the so called ‘defective’ children, she worked with, not only passed but had above average scores, an achievement described as the first Montessori Miracle. Montessori ‘s response to their success was, “If mentally disabled children could be brought to the level of normal children then why not extend the method to study the potential of normal children?”
The main Principle of Montessori Method is called ‘Self Development’ or enabling the child to develop in the path of learning at the speed he wishes to go in. It has been reported and observed that this method of teaching has helped children learn to read and write much faster as compared to other methods since the Montessori method concentrates on quality rather than quantity.
The success of this method sparked a world-wide interest in Montessori Method of education and the opening of many houses of children.
In 1939, Dr. Maria Montessori reached India with her only son Mario, sparking the beginning of her special relationship with India. She made Adyar, Chennai her home and with the help of her son conducted sixteen batches of lessons called the Indian Montessori Training courses.
Dr. Montessori lived the remaining years of her life in Netherlands where the headquarters of the AMI or the Association Montessori Internationale are now located.
A humble homage paid to the greatest Montessorian ever known in the field of Education, by Jayalakshmi Sandeep.