Maria Montessori as an Educational Giant
Erika Jo Hellbusch
ED 200 – 03 (Online)
November 08, 2013
Maria Montessori was a woman who worked hard to gain her education. Her ideas set the foundation for many private education programs seen today. After struggling to gain and education of her own, Maria took what she learned about educating those with mental disabilities and began to apply it to mainstream students. She opened her own small school where she implemented these strategies and it evolved into the Montessori education system used in many private schools. While these strategies aren’t used as often in public schools, there are teachers that apply them within their ...view middle of the document...
There she studied a variety of subjects and graduated in 1870 with a degree in physics mathematics, but chose to pursue a career in medicine instead. ("Maria montessori,")
After beginning to study at the University of Rome in 1870, Maria encountered hostility and harassment from both her teachers and classmates simply because she was a woman. She was required to dissect cadavers for her degree, but it was considered inappropriate for her to be in the classroom with the bodies of naked men, so she had to do her work after hours. She put a lot of effort into getting her degree and finally graduated in 1896. (Kramer 40–41)
Maria became a voluntary assistant in the psychiatric clinic at the University of Rome in 1897 where she studied and observed children with mental disabilities as part of her work. She began to really push to have special classes for these children to learn and wanted teachers to be specifically trained to help these children. When the Orthophrenic School was opened, Maria was the co-director. Here, teachers learned how to educate and work with children with mental disabilities. The school was a great success, but Maria left in 1902 to again further her education. She returned to the University of Rome to study philosophy, which incorporated a lot of what is now considered psychology. (Kramer 92, 94–95; Trabalzini 39)
While studying philosophy, Maria began to consider adapting what she had learned about educating those with mental disabilities to mainstream students. She began to write and present the idea, calling it scientific pedagogy, or scientific teaching and really believed that her ideas would work. She left the University with graduating and opened the Casa Dei Bambini, or the children’s House in 1907. 50-60 students between the ages of 2-7 were originally enrolled and Maria’s methods were put into use. Although she didn’t do the teaching, she was still very much in charge and closely observed the children and how they progressed. She made sure they were taught life skills that aren’t taught in public school today. These included dressing and undressing, dusting and sweeping to take care of the environment, gardening, flower arranging, hand washing and personal care, cooking, care of pets, and gymnastics. ("Early history of,")
As part of Maria’s program, these activities weren’t forced upon the children. There were specific topics to be covered each day, so the teacher would lay out projects and tools for each topic and would let the children decide what they wanted to learn and when. There were also toys laid out and Maria observed that the children were less inclined to play with the toys than they were to try to learn. She also found that they were highly unmotivated by sweets and candies. After observing her students, Maria replaced all of her furniture with small tables and chairs that the children could easily move around. This way, they could help set up the classroom in ways that...