Maria Montessori and her Handbook

Noticed a Montessori School in your community and wondered just what that is?  Montessori school follow the teaching principles of Maria Montessori, who lived between 1870 and 1952, and opened her first school in Rome in 1907.

Maria Montessori believed in a child’s natural desire to learn, and the sponge like nature of a child’s mind when exposed to new information and materials.

The website for the American Montessori Society notes that youngsters who were unruly at first, soon showed great interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare meals, and manipulating materials that held lessons in math. She {Maria Montessori} observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves.

Perhaps one of my favorite Maria Montessori quotes shared on the American Montessori Society website is: When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, “I want to do it!” But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to children’s needs, they say, “Help me to do it alone.” And these words reveal their inner needs. [Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, translated by M. Joseph Costelloe, S.J.]

For those interested in discovering more about Montessori schools, and the Montessori method, the Montessori Handbook may be of interest… but this is another situation where it may be of great importance to keep in mind when the book was written – 1914.  A Book over 100 years old is by its very nature bound to sound dated, read a bit awkwardly, add to that the fact it was written by a woman whose native language was not English, and who was approaching the topic from both a medical and an educators perspective.  The intent here is to inform as opposed to amuse and entertain… and hopefully it will open some people’s eyes to another way to teach and learn.

“It is not true,” says Dr. Montessori, “that I invented what is called the Montessori Method. I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.” [What You Should Know About Your Child: Based on Lectures Delivered by Maria Montessori, transcribed and translated by Gnana Prakasam] (as posted on the American Montessori Society Website)

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