The life of Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
During her studies, Maria Montessori developed an interest in science, physics and mathematics. In 1890, she entered the 3rd year of medicine and in 1896 became one of the first female medical graduates in Italy. In 1898 the Minister of National Education entrusted her with the management of the orthophrenic school (elementary school for deficient children over six years old). Having little experience in pedagogy, she was
interested in work of Jean Gaspard d’Itard (doctor specializing in deaf and dumb children) and Itard Seguin (doctor specializing in children with sensory impairments). Thanks to this sensory materi get the primary school certificat. Maria Montessori remarks: “While we admired my idiots I wondered what we could do with normal children in normal school. ” In 1907, Maria Montessori opened the first “Children's House” in San Lorenzo, Italy, for children from underprivileged neighborhoods aged 3 to 6. She decided to have furniture built to suit the size and strength of the children. She brings toys but finds that the children prefer to manupulate with everyday objects.
The absorbent mind of the child
The absorbent mind of the child: Maria Montessori compares a child from 0 to 6 years old to a sponge which “absorbs” all the information in its close environment (smells, noises, sounds…). This is what allows him to adapt to his environment. According to her, children are natural, curious and interested explorers who know how to learn spontaneously from their environment.
The role of the environment
The environment, if it is adapted to the child, allows him to develop independently (without intervention of the adult).
The child chooses his activity, his place, the length of time the activity lasts, the number of times he can repeat the activity. The child left free to act according to his own sensitivity has the sole purpose of seeking an activity that meets his needs. He then loses all interest in disorderly and destructive acts. So self-
discipline and freedom go hand in hand.
These are times when the child is passionate about specific activities and at that time develops specific skills. Once this period has passed, the sensitivity ceases and the opportunity for natural conquest is lost forever.