Maria Montessori: Moments in Women’s History

31 Aug

Maria Montessori

Happy Birthday, Maria Montessori.  Montessori founded a method and philosophy of education that specifically serves children by treating them as individuals.  The Montessori method is unique in that the teacher serves as a facilitator who treats each student as an individual with value who is competent to make important decisions. Pedagogically, the Montessori method operates from the perspective that children have “absorbent minds,” and need to be encouraged to sustain a natural curiosity.  Typically, Montessori schools go through approximately middle school age.

In 1907, Montessori opened her first school, Casa dei Bambini.  While a devout Catholic, Montessori never married the father of her son, Mario, just proving we are all complex human beings.  As an educator of over 20 years, I have been consistently impressed with students coming out of Montessori schools. I would strongly recommend reading Education and Peace, which does a marvelous job of articulating a pedagogical approach for global citizens.

Princess Diana

I would also like to talk about the late Princess Diana.  It was 14 years ago today that Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris.  Diana was one of the very first celebrities to help combat the AIDS epidemic. During the height of fear in the 1980’s, Diana took the hand of a patient with AIDS helping to emphasize that one could not contract the virus through physical contact.  She also used her celebrity for the international campaign against landmines.  It would be nice to see more celebrities working for social justice and lending their voices for equality and to end discrimination. Diana certainly makes people like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry look absolutely pathetic!

4 Responses to “Maria Montessori: Moments in Women’s History”

  1. Jay August 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I find it interesting that both co-founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, attended Montessori schools. The notion of each Google employee self-directing a portion of her or his time has been attributed to the Montessori approach. This in turn is associated with Google’s impressive history of innovation.

    While I believe that any educational philosophy should be subject to updating based on the latest research (consider how much has been learned about neuroscience), I’ve been a fan of Montessori schools since I first learned about them 20 years ago. It is pleasing that your experience as a professional educator is in accord with my favorable views.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt August 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

      I did not know that about Google co-founders. Thank you for sharing that bit. I must confess that it was quite a challenge for me when I started teaching in a Montessori school. I was not accustomed to a model where one encourages such independence. As testament to my own pathology, I wanted to be needed and most of my students were self-sufficient in a way that was initially unsettling for me.

  2. Jay August 31, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    What an endearing confession. I often vaguely hoped to unnerve my teachers (a favorite I recall was asking my Geography teacher when Hong Kong would revert to mainland Chinese control–a ‘gotcha’ question, that he stumbled over, and that I wouldn’t be smug about posing today. But as a kid I loved the feeling of momentarily reversing the student-teacher power dynamic).

    Please let Robert know that you’ve earned an extra smooch, responsibility for which I delegate to him.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt September 1, 2011 at 6:28 am #

      Jay, You are far too kind, but thank you for considering my admission of my own pathology as endearing. I hope you will come and visit Robert and me soon!

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