Maria Montessori and Early Child Development

This historical paper will explain, describe and explore the many ways one of the first women interested in early child education; Maria Montessori helped bring special attention to children’s early learning. We will view her journey through medical practices as a physician to completely dedicating her life to the pursue of bettering education for all children. I’ll speak of her powerful aspiration to help children with special needs. Most importantly this paper will cover her belief in the success of early education being the world’s wide future of peace.

Historical Period and View of Child

Maria Montessori was born on August 31 of the year 1870 in a town called Chiaravalle, located in a province named Ancona, Italy (Maria Montessori Biography). From a young age she was committed to break barriers of society. Both of her parents were educated, but she was raised in a traditional Italian society where women were expected to hold positions as wives and mothers (Cooney & Jones, 2011).

Pushing the limits of society, Montessori was the first female physician in Italy to graduate with a medical degree which was acquired from the University of Rome (Maria Montessori Biography). Although she graduated in the medical field, her interest of careers would soon change once she started working with children.

The early 1900’s was a time where “The role of children was to be seen and not heard, adults had all the power.” (Cooney & Jones, 2011). Children younger than the age of six were not regularly educated. The ones given the most educational possibilities were the upper-class children, and the lower-class had little opportunities for education.

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Children with learning disabilities had no options at all. “Special needs children were thought to have no potential or place in society.” (Cooney & Jones, 2011). These children were often referred as, lost causes. The world viewed Intelligence as a fixed matter and no education on earth, provided to these children could possibly change their future. It was a belief that a child with learning disabilities could not learn and be able to have spot as a contributing person in society. There was little to no hope for these children in the 1900’s, but Montessori was determined to change this norm.

Theorists View of the Child/Theory of Teaching and Learning

Works of the scholar Froebel, and the physicians Jean Itard and Edouard Sequin were Maria Montessori’s inspiration in her theories of sensory education (Sewickley,2018). She believed in expanding a course of study that used experience and hands on manipulations of materials instead of the direct instructions that regularly took place in schools (Cooney & Jones, 2011). This method was discovered by the work Frobel and physicians Itard and Sequin practiced while trying to teach kids with special needs (Pendleton). The method was very successful and soon kids with special needs were able to maintain their equilibrium in the most difficult movements of the body (Pendleton). With time teaching through this way helped children with special needs to be able to read, write, speak, walk, jump, and develop everyday skills like going up staircases.

It was a concept of teaching children through utilizing the five senses and transferring the input to thought processes that Montessori considered to be the most beneficial assets to children’s learning (Cooney & Jones,2011). In her time working as a doctor, Montessori studied neurology and specialized in mental illness. She then studied psychology and anthropology, specializing in child development (Pendleton). This broad base of knowledge allowed her to examine problems and research from a wide range of perspectives (Cooney & Jones,2011). In medical practices she worked examining clinical observations which led her to inspect how kids learned. She concluded that children built themselves by what they discovered in their environment (Pendleton).

“Montessori claims that it is through movement and manipulation of the senses that children would gain knowledge of language, abstract thought, critically thinking and problem-solving skills, math skills, independence, practical life skills, and discipline.” (Cooney & Jones,2011). She believed once children obtained their senses, they became engaging members in their education with much interest to learn more(Sewickley,2018). Through children’s surroundings and environment, knowledge was captivated. An example of this teaching style would be to show a child red with a crayon. Tell the child, “This is red, and draw a picture in the color red. You could draw a fire or a tomato, something they could relate with their environment and different experiences. Next you would draw a picture in yellow and come back to the child with both drawings and simply ask, which color is red? She believed in this matter the child would learn the colors the best because they were relating it to their environment.

Contribution to Early Childhood Education

In Montessori’s life span she experienced two world wars and she became a strong advocate for peace(Sewickley,2018). She believed the education of children was the answer to future peace. “Her vision and goal were the reconstruction of society and the establishment of world peace through education.” (Maria Montessori Biography). Montessori was a huge contributor to children’s education, so much that she even founded the first Casa dei Bambini which translates to “Children’s House.” (Sewickley,2018). It was there where Montessori taught children through what she observed them to do naturally in their environment. Montessori knew children learned better this way than by adult’s inputs. She gained the world’s attention in 1915 when she opened a “glass house” schoolroom exhibit located at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco (Sewickley,2018).

Montessori also organized a teacher training course and addressed the annual conventions of both the National Education Association and the International Kindergarten Union (Maria Montessori Biography). She spoke of the capability of children to teach themselves and promoting self-creating task of the child. Today there are Maria Montessori school’s all over the world, educating children with the same methods she explored. Her curriculum is admired in the educational world even though she was thrown out the educational establishments in Italy for refusing to teach in the traditional Italian way (Sewickley,2018). She believed teaching by memory and repetition was unsuccessful as well as silencing children. Montessori died in 1952 but her success in the educational world lives on. Her name remains alive through the American Montessori Society know as AMS and Montessori Children’s Community (Maria Montessori Biography). Before her death she was also nominated for the Noble Prize three times (Cooney & Jones,2011).

Maria Montessori introduced a new learning technique that helped many children succeed in their early education, especially children with learning disabilities. She taught in a matter that would make an impacting and lasting difference in children’s future. After sharing her teaching methods throughout the world, she was able to make a significant change of opinion in kids with special needs. Her degree as a doctor helped her understand children more thoroughly and she advanced education for children. She made a difference by making a revision on society and thankfully because of people like her, we learned that many children with special needs are very intellectual. We no longer think in the same matter society viewed in the past. The research I did made me realize that anything is possible when you want to make a great modification in the world, especially when passion lies underneath.

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Maria Montessori and Early Child Development. (2021, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/maria-montessori-and-early-child-development/

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