Meet Dr. Maria Montessori – Visionary Behind the Montessori Method

Springdale Academy blog readers need no introduction to Dr. Maria Montessori. For the uninitiated, she is a renowned Italian physician and educator who has made significant contributions to education. Springdale Academy, a Montessori-credited preschool and one of the safest daycare facilities, is located at 133 Stryker Lane, Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. We employ Dr. Montessori’s revolutionary approach to teaching, a.k.a. The Montessori Method. We focus on the needs and abilities of each child and allow them to learn at their own pace through hands-on learning in a meticulously prepared environment that encourages children to explore and discover the wonderful world around them.

But today we are not here to tell you about that. Visit this page if you want more information about “The Montessori Method.”

In this blog, we examine the life of Dr. Maria Montessori. Let’s visit Chiaravalle, a municipality in the Province of Ancona in the region of Marche. Born on August 31, 1870, Maria was not a prodigious student. She graduated with excellent grades and intended to study medicine. A choice that was against the cultural norm in those times, but that did not deter her. She had made up her mind and earned a “Diploma di Licenza” in 1892, a qualification that should have allowed her to enter the medical program but it wasn’t enough. She was accepted into the University of Rome after Pope Leo XIII personally endorsed her.

Met with hostility and harassment from fellow students and the faculty just because of her gender, Maria wasn’t even allowed to perform dissections during classes because it was deemed inappropriate. She was the only female student enrolled in a medical program in Italy, and instead of learning, she had to face discrimination each day. But she did not let this get to her! In her first year, she won an academic prize and gained clinical experience. In 1896, she became the first Italian woman to graduate with a medical degree.

Maria Montessori Contribution to Education

Maria’s interest in education began when she was a volunteer assistant in a psychiatric clinic, where she worked with children with intellectual disabilities. Her observations during this time served as the foundation for her methodology, “The Montessori Method.” Her ideas, which have existed for more than a century, have been widely embraced and celebrated by educators worldwide.

But did you know that Maria’s first Montessori school was established to stop vandalism? That’s right! Banks in the San Lorenzo district invested in half-finished building projects and turned them into affordable housing for low-income families. With both parents working, the children were left unsupervised, so they reached out to Maria. This led to the opening of “Casa Dei Bambini,” where Maria could finally put her educational approach into practice.

As a young woman, Maria faced constant ridicule and struggled to gain recognition in a male-dominated field. However, she broke down the barriers and paved the way for future generations of women. Not only was Maria a trailblazer for women’s rights and a vocal advocate for women’s suffrage and equality, but she also stood up against fascism! So much so that she was exiled from Italy to India for World War II because of her outspoken criticism of Mussolini’s regime. She refused to compromise her principles and turn children into soldiers.

Maria Montissori in India

She was in India for 7 years and was also declared an “enemy alien” by the British government that occupied India at the time. Even though her son, Mario Montessori, was imprisoned in India by the British government, Maria held firm like she had done all her life. As part of her 70th birthday present and for the work she did during her time in India with children, the Indian government released Mario, reuniting a mother with her son. During her 7-year house arrest in India, she also met notable Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi, the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Nobel Prize winner, Rabindranath Tagore. In recognition of her contributions to the Indian education system, she was immortalized by having her image placed on a stamp that celebrated her.

In addition to her pioneering work in education, Maria was also a prolific writer with over 20 books, including the famed “The Absorbent Mind” and “The Secret of Childhood,” which have been translated into over 20 languages and continue to inspire educators and parents in this day and age. A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, it is a shame that she was never awarded the prize.

Maria passed away in the Netherlands on May 6, 1982, at the age of 81. Her legacy lives on. Her ideals continue to shape our thinking about education and child development. They serve as the basis for a better future for mankind. Her life is a testament to education. She showed us how to help children learn, grow, and thrive! She has given us the tools; now it is up to us to ensure no child gets left behind!

Springdale Academy invites parents to join us. Take a look at how a Montessori education will prepare your child for the world. Visit the best preschool in New Jersey to discover the potential of Montessori education!

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