Maria Montessori, born in 1870, was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education, and anthropology.
She believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a "blank slate" waiting to be written upon. Her main contributions to the work of those of us raising and educating children are in these areas:
1. Preparing the most natural and life supporting environment for the child.
2. Observing the child living freely in this environment.
3. Continually adapting the environment in order that the child may fulfill his greatest potential- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
The Montessori method is always up-to-date and dynamic because observation and the meeting of needs is continual and specific for each child.
Today Montessori teacher training centers and schools exist on all continents. There are Montessori classes for children up to age eighteen within public and private schools, and many parents are using Dr. Montessori's discoveries to raise/educate their children at home. The discoveries of Maria Montessori are valuable for anyone living and working with children in any situation.
Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witness to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.
-Maria Montessori, Education to a New World