A Short History of Dr. Maria Montessori and her Methods
Teaching a two years old child how to be independent, responsible and confident sounds impossible, but more than 100 years back an Italian doctor named Maria Montessori made it possible. As she believed "the study of child psychology in the first years of life opens to our eyes such wonders that no one seeing them with understanding can fail to be deeply stirred. Our work as adults does not consist in teaching, but in helping the infant mind in its work of development." (What is Montessori preschool? by David Khan p.4) Maria Montessori was born on 31st August 1870 in Chiarvalle in Ancona, Italy. Her father Alessandro was old-fashioned man with military habits; however her mother Renilnd was an educated woman which was very unusual in those days. They were a middle class family and Maria Montessori was their only child. When Maria Montessori was around five they moved to Rome and a year after she started school there. Montessori was an ambitious girl with a strong personality. She was good at mathematics and wanted to be an engineer, but later on she discovered her love for biology and her final decision was to study medicine. Her father was against her idea of studying medicine since in those days only boys could become doctors. Although she took her first degree, she struggled a lot to make her way into the medical university and by that she was the first female medical student in Italy. Maria Montessori thought that this was the end of her struggles but actually it was just the beginning. She faced difficulties by being the only woman student. The students which were all men were insulting her when she was passing the corridors and they tried very hard to frighten her away but that did not work. She even dissected a dead body in a room by her own, because it was not proper for a girl to dissect a body in front of men. For her that was not a pleasant experience as she said "there, on the other side, the skeleton - ever more enormous - seemed to move. ‘My God, what have I done to suffer in this way? Why me all alone in the midst of all this death?'.... A shiver ran through my bones." (Maria Montessori by Michael Pollard p.15) On that night she became feverish and her mother told her that she do not have to go back to the university, but the next morning Montessori decided to go back and finish what she started. In 1896 she graduated and became the first female physician in Italy. After graduation she worked in psychiatric clinic in the University of Rome for "idiot" children. In the room where the children were there was nothing for them to handle or play with, there were only benches for them to sit on. The children were clean and feed but after meals they throw themselves on the floor to pick up the crumbs of bread. Dr. Montessori thought that this cannot be right, therefore something need to be done to help these children. She went to Paris and visited the Boureville Institute where she studied a lot of people. The first to study was Jeab Marc Gaspard Itard; he was a physician in the institute of deaf-mutes in Paris. In his late twenties a boy around eleven years was brought to him, he was found in the woods around Aveyron. The boy was more like an animal and scientists from all around the world came to see him. Dr. Phillippe Pinel an expert in insanity was brought in to find a way to change the wild boy, but after looking at him; he said that nothing can be done. Itard disagreed with him and thought that the wild boy needed training, so he took him home and named him victor. His house keeper helped him to train victor, she loved the wild boy and she was helping him to socialize. Itard used strict methods and tried to teach him language, he even isolated his senses. The boy learned only few words Milk and God; therefore Itard gave up on him and took him back to the institute. Montessori was interested in how the wild boy could not learn language even though...
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