Every year we hold a Dress Up Day in honour of Maria Montessori’s birthday on 31 August. The real and remarkable Dr Montessori was a renowned scientist and the first female doctor in Italy. An interest in children’s health and education led her to open a children’s school in Rome in 1907 and develop the highly successful Montessori approach to education. Her method of teaching children stresses the development of initiative, self-motivation, respect and independence.
Her carefully-planned learning environment allows children’s natural abilities to flourish. Montessori schools us now exist all over the world, from Egypt to Haiti to Japan, Samoa to Kenya to Latvia.
Dr. Montessori was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the far-reaching and positive effects of her work with children and families. She was also an active campaigner for equal pay for women.
Dr. Montessori was much admired and supported by, among others, Mahatma Ghandi who promoted the opening of Montessori schools in India and Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller and Thomas Edison who helped introduce Montessori schools to the United States.
Before the lira was replaced by the euro in Italy, Maria Montessori’s face was on the 200 lira coin and the 10,000 lira bank note.
People who have been educated in Montessori schools include the famous cook Julia Childs, Anne Frank, Friedensreich Hundertwasser (the Austrian painter and sculptor famous not only for his buildings in Europe but also the public toilets in Kawakawa, New Zealand) and Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. Larry Page and Sergey Brin credit their success to both having attended a Montessori school where they learned to be self-directed and self-starters.
Picture: Dr Montessori on the cover of Time magazine, 3 February 1930