Happy Birthday Maria Montessori!

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Today is birthday of Maria Montessori who would be 143 years old. Born in Chiaravalle, Italy in 1870, Montessori became the first female doctor in the country in 1896. Later, she observed and worked with mentally disabled children applying Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin’s ideas on education. In 1907 she had the opportunity to work with school age children, revising her program based on observation and empirical evidence.

Her method can be summarized into five fundamental principles:

1. Cosmic Education (Interconnected curriculum)

“[L]et us give [the child] a vision of the whole universe…for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.”

2. Self-directed independence

“Freedom in intellectual work is found to be the basis of internal discipline.”

3. Inseparability of movement and cognition

“Mental development must be connected with movement and be dependent on it. It is vital that educational theory and practice should become informed by this idea.”

4. Multi-age groupings

“…[C]hildren of different ages help one another. The younger ones see what the older ones are doing and ask for explanations. The older ones are happy to be able to teach what they know. There are no inferiority complexes; everyone achieves a healthy normality through the mutual exchange.”

5. Specialized manipulatives

“The material should present itself to the psychical requirements of the child as a staircase which helps [the child] to ascend. The psychical exercises require new material…and more complex forms of objects capable of fixing the attention, of making the intelligence ripen in the continual exercise of it own energies.”

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