Montessori at MVM Thursday 4/14/16

Deepening Our Collective Understanding

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Dear MVM Families,

The focus of this newsletter is Part I of our series on Maria Montessori. Who was this person who developed and cultivated a method of education that addresses the whole child over a century ago?


To find out more about Maria Montessori, please take some time to read about her life and work in this newsletter. We also provide links to other sources of more information.


We have copied our new families on this newsletter and welcome them to our community. As a community, we know that our families come to a Montessori public charter school for a myriad of reasons.


It is imperative that parents understand who Maria Montessori was, the Montessori philosophy, Montessori teaching methods and the prepared environment, the importance of independence, and what it means to be part of a charter school.


These Thursday newsletters are part of our growing parent education program. Parents model life-long learning for their children. Enjoy learning more about Maria Montessori below.

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We Human Beings...

We Must Have a Mission Too...

Of Which We are Not Aware...

M. Montessori

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Maria Montessori: A Little History

Light years ahead of her time, Maria Montessori developed a theory of education that continues to thrive more than a century after she opened her first school.


Noticing how children were challenged by the expectation to behave as adults in a world created for grown-ups, this amazing woman is responsible for, among other things, the revolutionary introduction of child-size furniture.



Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy on August 31,1870. Her father, Alessandro Montessori, 33 years old at the time, was an official of the Ministry of Finance working in the local state-run tobacco factory. Her mother, Renilde Stoppani, 25 years old, was well educated for the times and was the great-niece of Italian geologist and paleontologist Antonio Stoppani. Maria Montessori was very close to her mother who readily encouraged her and had a loving relationship with her father. However, he disagreed with her choice to continue her education.
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University of Rome: Montessori furthers her studies

After secondary school, Montessori considered studying engineering, but decided to pursue medicine instead. Montessori moved forward with her intention to study medicine. She had to appeal to the professor of clinical medicine at the University of Rome, but was strongly discouraged from this educational path. Eventually, it seems, Pope Leo XIII interceded on Montessori's behalf.


In 1890, she enrolled in the University of Rome in a degree course in natural sciences, passing examinations in botany, zoology, experimental physics, histology, anatomy, and general and organic chemistry, and earning her diploma di licenza in 1892. This degree, along with additional studies in Italian and Latin and the Pope's intercessions, enabled her to enter the Faculty of Medicine. She became one of the first women to enter medical school in Italy.


She was met with hostility and harassment from some medical students and professors because of her gender. Because her attendance of classes with men in the presence of a naked body was deemed inappropriate, she was required to perform her dissections of cadavers alone, after hours. She resorted to smoking tobacco to mask the offensive odors.


Yet Montessori stood out; not just because of her gender, but because she was intent on mastering the subject matter. She won a series of scholarships at medical school which, together with the money she earned through private tuition, enabled her to pay for most of her medical education.


Montessori won an academic prize in her first year, and in 1895 secured a position as a hospital assistant, gaining early clinical experience. In her last two years she studied pediatrics and psychiatry. She worked in the pediatric consulting room and emergency service, becoming an expert in pediatric medicine.


Montessori graduated from the University of Rome in 1896 as a doctor of medicine. She was the first woman to receive a medical degree from the Unversity.

Montessori's Early Work

Montessori began developing her teaching methods when she worked as a pediatrician in a psychiatric hospital for "deficient" children.

With inspiration from the research of Seguin, Itard, and Froebel, she began creating educational equipment for children who were considered unteachable. The results were incredible. Montessori extrapolated that if the results were so powerful with "unteachable" children, the methods would be just as impactful with all children.

Dr. Montessori used the term "scientific pedagogy" to explain her continued study, research, and observations of young children. She designed lessons and equipment to help children develop their muscles, care for the environment (Practical Life), and educate the senses (Sensorial Materials). She also created innovative materials for language, math, history, geography and science. These didactic materials remain relevant to this day, helping children learn skills from the simple to complicated, and from the concrete to abstract.
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Casa dei Bambini

Following her success with special-needs children, Dr. Montessori was asked to create a school for "normal" children. Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) opened in the poverty-stricken San Lorenzo district of Rome in 1907. As a result of her teachings, the children dramatically changed. They learned to take care of themselves as well as their school while being exposed to lessons and tools that taught them how to succeed in life.

In Part II

In two weeks, Part II will arrive in your inbox. You'll learn about Maria Montessori's Glass Classroom during the San Fransisco Fair, her son Mario, and take a peek at how the materials she designed are still in use in today's classrooms.

To learn more...

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To watch and hear more...

For a video detailing Montessori's life, struggles, and timeline: https://youtu.be/TXqeTYHn0p4

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