Maria Montessori opened her first school on this day in 1907.
Born in Chiaravalle, Italy, in 1870, Montessori was a good student, and though it was not commonly accepted (yet!) for women to pursue studies in medicine, she carried out her ambition in a world dominated by men. She was systematically discouraged, harassed, and mocked, and had to work much harder than her male counterparts.
Upon completion of her studies, Montessori secured a position in the pediatrics department at her alma mater the University of Rome, and opened her private practice. There, she specialized in working with phrenasthenic (mentally disabled) children and began advocacy on a larger scale for women's rights and education for children with special needs. Montessori felt it was absolutely necessary for there to be special education for children who needed it, and dedicated training for educators.
In 1907, she was invited to oversee a newly-opened school where she decided to apply her pedagogy for a non-special needs group of pupils. The Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) was the pilot school for the Montessori method.
The method favored self-discipline, independence, hands-on creative learning, sensorial exploration, and the essential acknowledgment for each child's individual development, all within a "prepared environment". The classrooms were made up of mixed age groups, where children could choose their desired activity from a list, move around freely, and learn personal and practical care. Montessori also outfitted the classrooms with child-sized furniture.
Within a few years, the Montessori method was adopted in many schools across Europe and the world.
By 1919, Montessori resigned from her physician position and devoted herself entirely to education. "Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education." #mariamontessori