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Shannon Kelsey Teaching Portfolio
Educator Essay

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   Educator Essay 2

Maria Montessori

 

                Maria Montessori was an extraordinarily intelligent woman of many talents. Not only was Maria Montessori an educator, and founder of the Montessori Education Method, but she was also a scientist, and a medical doctor, she was Italy’s first female physician, no less. Her talents and efforts were noticed, Maria was nominated three times for the Noble Peace Prize in 1949, 1950, and 1951.

                Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870 in Chiaraville, Italy to her parents- Allesandro Montessori was her father and Renilde Stoppani was her mother. Her father was a civil servant and (former) soldier, while her mother was unemployed, as were most women, but well educated and a good reader. Maria was close with her father, although the two never saw eye to eye about Maria’s interests and career choices, her mother did support and encourage her ambitions.

                At the young age of thirteen Maria enrolled in a technical school, which back then, a female in a technical school was almost unheard of. Maria managed to graduate in 1886 and moved on to Regio Institutio Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci. This is where she then decided to study biological sciences. At first Maria was denied acceptance into the University of Rome but later was accepted and received a Diploma di Licenze, which made her eligible to study medicine. After many failed attempts, Maria somehow managed her way into medical school and was accepted. In 1896, Maria was asked to present her thesis to a board of ten men. As unexpected as it was, the men liked her work and were very impressed by her. They decided to grant her a Degree of Doctor of Medicine. Maria was the first women to graduate from medical school in Italy. In 1897, Maria went on to become part of the staff at the University of Rome as a voluntary assistant.

                As a voluntary assistant, part of Maria’s job was to work in and visit the insane asylums which held the mentally handicapped children. This helped Maria become interested in human behavior and psychology. In 1904, Maria Montessori became a professor teaching anthropology at the University of Rome, although this job did not last a very long time. Maria Montessori then went on to start a “Children’s House” or “Casa dei Bambini”; these children’s houses were designed to provide a stable environment for the children to live and learn in. This is where Maria’s influence on education and the “Montessori Method” all began.

            Maria Montessori started the children’s house with sixty poor, working family children. As she worked with the children, she mainly observed them and some astonishing observations for that time period. She quickly discovered that children have an inner drive to learn, and that they don’t necessarily need a teacher to guide and instruct them but they are capable of digesting a large amount of information on their own. Montessori also discovered that the children’s interest in learning seemed to work and function best when the children were set free in a safe, hands on learning environment. “Given furniture, equipment, and supplies that they access and work all by themselves, they were self-motivated to explore, experiment, and reach new understandings. She found self-correcting or “auto-didactic” puzzles and other equipment to be an essential component of independent learning and

the child-friendly environment. What’s more, she found that if children were put into groups with other children with a small range of ages (such as 3-6, 6-9, 9-11), they would not only work together but also help teach each other” (Maria Montessori, Para. 7, n.d.)

           These discoveries made by Maria Montessori were only the beginning of her contributions to education.Maria Montessori in the beginning of her discoveries, contributed a new style of teaching, a way for children to teach themselves, or learn independently. This style is still used throughout the world today in many schools. The Montessori Method will be covered more thoroughly in later paragraphs. A major contribution to education was that now teachers could adapt to the Montessori Method and not just stand at the front of the classroom lecturing, but reach out to more students by using this method, which may help some children learn more.

                While in a traditional classroom, children must pay attention while the teacher teaches. If using the Montessori Method, classrooms are a bit different from traditional classrooms. “Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three year age groups, forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones” (Montessori FAQ’s general, teachers, school, para. 3, n.d.).

               Maria presented the world with a much different approach to educating children, and opened many doors for children to be independent learners. Not all children learn the same, while some retain a lot of wisdom and information just from listening to a teacher at the head of the classroom, others do not. Maria discovered that some children learn best by being able to do hands on activities, and by being let loose in a stimulating environment, one in which they are free to choose what they want to do. As stated before, the Montessori Method was a huge contribution to education, by allowing some children to teach themselves and learn through hands on activities.

                Marias work brought her into the insane asylums and her initial interest was to work with societies discarded children: the mentally retarded, children with behavior issues, children with other mental handicaps, orphans and the very poor children. Maria could see that these children were far more capable than anyone imagined they would be. Maria enjoyed tremendous success while teaching the children herself, and initially designed the “Montessori Method” for the handicapped/ disadvantaged children. Thanks to Maria Montessori, mentally handicapped children who were once not sent to school and were put into asylums were now able to master basic skills in taking care of themselves as well as to take and pass academic tests meant for the non-handicapped children. Maria Montessori made a huge contribution to education (and the mentally handicapped) by showing the world that handicapped children are just as capable to learn and thrive in school as any normal child is. Maria gave the handicapped children a chance at making themselves better and a chance to go to and be accepted in schools by showing the world all they can accomplish!

                Maria Montessori helped contribute and influence education just by creating and using her own method of teaching- The Montessori Method. Since she started teaching this particular way, Montessori schools have become a popular, common school. Most people have heard of Montessori schools but are unaware that it was Maria who made these schools come into existence. It is estimated that there are at least four thousand Montessori schools in the United States and seven thousand Montessori schools worldwide. If it was not for Maria none of these schools would exist. While most Montessori schools are private and costs range from the low three thousands to the high five thousands (depending on the child’s age and hours attended for the younger children), there are also around two hundred public Montessori schools in the United States and Canada.

                Maria Montessori made a huge impact on education today in more ways than one. If it was not for Maria and her observations of handicapped and mentally challenged children they might not have a place in schools today. We can also thank Maria for discovering/inventing the Montessori Method in which many children are taught today. As well as Montessori schools, once again, if it was not for Maria Montessori, they would not exist today. Maria Montessori was a remarkable woman who contributed so much to education. Education today more than likely not be the same and as far a long as it is if it was not for Maria Montessori. 

 Educator Essay 3

References

N/A, (n.d.), Maria Montessori. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from NNDB: Tracking the Entire World Web site:

          http://www.nndb.com/people/189/000108862/

N/A (Updated October 14, 2007). The International Montessori Index- Montessori Today. Retrieved October 14,      

                         2007, from Montessori FAQ’s general, teachers, schools website: http://montessori.edu/FAQ/html

 

 

 

 

 

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