Maria Montessori

About Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) is today counted among the most significant reformist educators. She was born in Chiaravalle and was the first women in Italy to graduate in medicine. While working in one psychiatric clinic she encountered children with developmental problems who were not receiving appropriate treatment. Contact with these children strengthened her belief that these were more educational than medical problems. Having become interested in this problem, she began to study the works of Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin. Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard considered that children with developmental problems could be helped with continuous, systemic supervision and appropriate educational methods. He claimed that every sense could be developed by systemic exercise. Edouard Seguin was Itard's student, and under the strong influence of his teacher, developed specific methods and exercises for such children (for example, fitting certain geometric shapes into a given space). Seguin's manner of work delighted Maria and encouraged her to create by herself on the basis of her personal experience new didactic materials.

...the basis of Maria Montessori's educational activity, [...] started with the premise that, with correct guidance and direction of the given potential of the child, the child will develop up to his/her natural maximum.

The works of Rousseau, Pestalozzi and Fröbel had an impact on her professional development. Jean-Jacques Rousseau considered that the key to success lies in every child individually, and the basis of the process of learning is stimulation of all the child's senses. In 1837 Friedrich Fröbel opened his kindergarten in which he used his first working materials and toys for children. The aim of Fröbel's didactic equipment was the stimulation of children's own self-creativity and growing awareness of the process of learning which, according to him, develops at particular rates. What all the mentioned authors have in common is the encouragement of the natural potential of the child and his/her abilities, and which was later also found in the basis of Maria Montessori's educational activity, who started with the premise that, with correct guidance and direction of the given potential of the child, the child will develop up to his/her natural maximum.

Montessori was director for two years of an institute which trained teachers for work with children with learning difficulties, which was an indication that knowledge in the field of medicine could be transferred to the field of educational work. Her basic idea from the area of education, which she presented as a teacher to students in the area of natural sciences, was above all that one should get to know the individual attributes of the child.

In 1907 Maria Montessori opened her first Children's House (Casa dei Bambini) in a poor quarter of Rome, San Lorenzo, with which she achieved surprising educational success. She developed her method with the aid of empirical observations of children and she presented her findings at numerous educational seminars and lectures in Italy and around the world.

In 1909 she published her book "Il Metodo" which was quickly translated into many languages, in English as "The Montessori Method". In it is contained what follows under the heading: the Montessori method.

Development of the Montessori Method

Maria Montessori created the best-known pedagogical concept of reformist pedagogy, which is today known around the world. Since the opening of the first "Children's House" similar institutions started springing up in Italy, across Europe, then in America and India.

Today, it is most prevalent in Holland, Denmark, America, India, Japan and China. In Hungary, from where Serbia took the concept of its programme (Montenegro took the concept of its programme from Serbia and adapted it to the current legislation and legal regulations), Montessori pedagogy is the most prevalent of all reformist and alternative pedagogical concepts. the first "Children's House" in Rome began working in 1907 and by 1908, after a conference in Milan, the Hungarian representatives presented the pedagogical concepts of Maria Montessori from this conference to audiences in Budapest.

The first Montessori kindergarten in Hungary started in 1912. Several teachers from Italy worked as part of this kindergarten, educated by Maria Montessori herself. The network of Montessori kindergartens in Hungary quickly began to grow and in 1928 the first Montessori school was opened. Since 1930 in the State School for Nursery-Level Teachers in Budapest, students are familiarised with and prepared for applying Montessori methods in their work. In 1932 the Montessori Association of Hungary was established. Montessori kindergartens and school were present until World War II, when because of the political situation the concept of institutional education and upbringing in Hungary changed.

At the end of the 1980s reformist and alternative pedagogical concepts underwent a renaissance in the world, which was also the case in Hungary, and Maria Montessori's pedagogy also experienced the same fate. Lexical knowledge was losing its value, and people were needed to recognise the problem, to independently solve concrete problems, people who were problem-oriented in their thinking, who were open to the new, ready to accept the new and capable of responding to the new. In recognition of this fact, gradually the doors opened to certain programmes and methods which could be implemented in the existing system of education and upbringing. In 1992 the Montessori Association of Hungary restarted its work, falling back on the principles from 1932. The Association had as its aims:

  • The development and popularisation of the idea of Maria Montessori in work with children of preschool and school age;
  • The training of educational workers in Montessori pedagogy and education: a basic foundation course of the Montessori programme, 40 hours of training for teachers, accredited since 1992 by the Ministry of Education. Teachers and expert advisers underwent the basic foundation course for the Montessori programme, and the Cano Koprivica Foundation provided the means for the same education of two teachers who went on to attain the status of Montessori teacher. Since 2004, in cooperation with the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, a two-year specialisation course has been organised for Montessori educators. An expert adviser from the "Nasa radost" (Our Joy) Preschool Institution in Subotica, Serbia completed this course, and coordinates the work of the kindergarten in Subotica, with the Adapted Montessori Programme. Teachers financed by the Cano Koprivica Foundation were also educated by this expert adviser and became certified as Montessori teachers;
  • Coordination and synchronisation of existing Montessori kindergartens – according to figures from 2009 in Hungary 130 Montessori kindergartens, one primary school (in a state school) and two Montessori gymnasiums (grammar schools) have been registered.

In 1997 the Montessori Association of Hungary gained the highest acknowledgment from the Association Montessori Internationale, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands, where the AMI acknowledges and verifies the work of the Montessori Association of Hungary.

In 1997 the Republic Bureau for Primary Education of Hungary accredited the Montessori Association of Serbia as a special preschool programme, which can be applied within the Framework Preschool Plan and Programme.

The Adapted Montessori Programme for the "Zvono" Montessori Nursery School, whose founder is the Cano Koprivica Non-Governmental Foundation, Niksic, was drawn up on the basis of the special Montessori programme of preschool education and upbringing of the Montessori Association of Serbia. The Montessori programme was started on the basis of the Cooperation Agreement, dated 05 January 2013 between the Montessori Association of Serbia, Montessori educator and Montessori instructor Erzsebet Bedrosin and the Cano Koprivica Non-Governmental Foundation, Niksic.

Page updated: 28 December 2013


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