Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori ( August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle, † May 6, 1952 in Noordwijk aan Zee ) was an Italian doctor, educational reformer, philosopher and philanthropist. She developed the Montessori pedagogy.


Maria Montessori was born into an educated family: her father, Alessandro Montessori worked in the Ministry of Finance and director of the state tobacco factory. About her mother Renilde Montessori, born Stoppani, she had the Catholic theologian and geologist Antonio Stoppani for great-uncle. In his theory for the connection between theology and science, the basic idea, developed their cosmic education after the Montessori infected.

Already in her school Maria Montessori was interested in natural sciences and therefore visited - against the resistance of her conservative father - a technical high school. After high school she tried to study medicine. Studying at universities was generally possible for women in Italy since 1875. But it was rejected by the university, as the study of medicine was reserved for men. That's why she studied at the University of Rome from 1890 to 1892, first natural sciences. After her first degree, she managed finally to enroll in medicine. In 1896 she received his doctorate from the University of Rome. The widespread rumor that she earned her doctorate as the first woman in Italy, however, is not true.


In her studies, she has focused particularly on embryology and evolution. Your view of science corresponded to positivism.

Already in their last two years of study Montessori worked as an assistant at a psychiatric clinic in Rome. She specialized in pediatrics and continued this work as assistant physician in the Department of Child Psychiatry at the Roman University Children's Hospital continues. She was especially interested to there only scantily supplied mentally handicapped children. She was of the undignified and neglected state in which these children lived, deeply moved and tried to help. They came across the forgotten work of Jean Itard and Edouard Séguin, whose textbook on the Physiological Method translated them into Italian.

Scientific Work

Like its two predecessors Montessori was convinced that the treatment of " imbecile " or "idiot " is not a medical, but an educational problem. They therefore called for the establishment of special schools for the children involved.

Her doctorate, she wrote in 1896 about Antagonistic hallucinations in psychiatry. She began working in his own practice. Then began their principal researcher years. By 1907, she developed her anthropological- biological theory and dealt with the neuropsychiatric foundations on which they base their pedagogy and its practical experiments in the children's homes.

Therapeutic Institute ( Scuola Magistrale ortofrenica )

In 1899 she was awarded by the Italian Education Minister Guido Baccelli the order to hold a series of lectures on the education of mentally handicapped children from teachers in Rome. For this course, the Scuola Magistrale emerged ortofrenica ( Italian " Therapeutic Institute " ), which she headed as director two years. She developed during this time special teaching materials for language and mathematics.

Pedagogical Institute in Rome

1901 Montessori left the Institute and took up studies in anthropology, psychology, and philosophy of education. She also explores visited many schools, and made there anthropological investigations. In 1904 she lectured on anthropology and education at the Pedagogical Institute in Rome.

Children's House (Casa dei Bambini )

On January 6, 1907, she opened a day care center for mentally healthy children from low-income families, the so-called Casa dei Bambini ( Children's House Italian ), in the Roman working class district of San Lorenzo. Originally, these should be kept only in a "people's residence ." In the care they then transferred the tools they had developed for the promotion of mentally handicapped children, the children of the poor people. The results were so overwhelmingly good that they " met with the greatest astonishment and incredulity ," as they are " different children " in himself describes it step by step developed her method of it. A key event of this period was their observation of a three year old girl who totally self-absorbed in his preoccupation with use cylinder blocks, not allowed by massive distractions interfere. The expression of concentrated attention, the Montessori was able to observe at this child, she later described as " polarization of attention", whose experimental research, she devoted much of her other work.

From the experience during this time she developed the Montessori method ( Il metodo della pedagogia scientifica, first version in 1909 after constantly expanding, and L' autoeducazione, 1916) for the education of children, which has become popular in many parts of the world today. After an encounter with Italy's fascist leader Montessori Benito Mussolini as the Montessori method was introduced in 1924 in Italian schools. The Italian Montessori Society was supported by the Fascist government through this protection. 1927 this support has been reinforced. The alienation Montessori against the fascist government did not begin until 1934 when the regime increasingly tried to interfere in the daily work at the Montessori schools ( for example commandment of wearing uniform ).

International effects

From 1913, initially a strong interest in their child-rearing practices, but which waned later evolved in North America. It was not until 1960 it was revived with the establishment of the American Montessori Society (American Montessori Society) by Nancy McCormick Rambusch.

In Germany especially Clara Grunwald and after 1945 Helene helming the Montessori education had spread and mainstreamed in the 1920s.

Time in India

In 1939, Maria Montessori traveled at the invitation of the Theosophical Society to India to give lectures and training courses. She was accompanied by her son, Mario, who translated their speeches into English. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the Montessori were interned as enemy aliens by the British. During this time, Maria Montessori held a series of training courses. She left India for the first time in 1946 and returned only in 1949 finally back to Europe.

During this time she developed particular the principle of " Cosmic Education" and the " Erdkinderplan ".

Age in the Netherlands

By the end of her life she spent her time in the Netherlands, where today is also the headquarters of the Association Montessori Internationale ( AMI).

Son Mario Montessori

Between 1898 and 1901 Montessori brought her illegitimate son Mario to the world. Mario himself is March 31, 1898 as his date of birth. In this time, however, fall a number of his mother's public appearances and it is unlikely that they would have an advanced pregnancy it can hide. By contrast, they showed in 1901 for several months not in public, pregnancy and birth might have been possible reasons for this disappearance.

Father of the child was her colleague Giuseppe Montesano ( 1868-1951 ). Montesano agreed that Mario got his family name, but demanded the secrecy of the existence of the child. Mario was given to the country in the care and attends Montessori repeatedly. After her mother Renilde Montessori 's death she took him in the spring of 1913, after they had met by chance on the street, and Mario took the name of his mother. The public learned of its existence, but initially nothing. Later he served her until her death as secretary and probably also the manufacturer of the imaginary of their development materials. In addition, an essential role in the development of the pedagogical concept of cosmic education, he is credited ( Montessori education for ages 6-12 years ). Only when he was about 40 years old, she confessed to him as his mother.

After his mother 's death in 1952, Mario Montessori led the company until his death in 1982.

Montessori pedagogy


  • Il metodo della pedagogia scientifica. (1909, 3rd edition 1926); German: Automatic education in early childhood. ed. under the title: La scoperta del bambino. (1950, 7th edition, 1966); dt: The discovery of the child. (1969, 4th edition 1974).
  • Antropologia pedagogica (1910).
  • The self-education of the child ( = The School of Life - writing a consequence of the Federal Resolute school reformers, Issue 12, 1923)
  • Dr. Montessori's own handbook. 1914; German: My manual. (1922, 2nd edition 1928).
  • L' autoeducazione nelle scuole elementari. (1916, 2nd edition 1940; Neuausg 1962. ); German: M. - education for school children. (1926 ); The child's school. Montessori education in the primary school. (1976).
  • The child in the church. (1929, 2nd edition 1965); German: Children who live in the church. (1964).
  • Il segreto dell'infanzia. (1938, published 1950; . 9th ed 1966); German: children are different. (1952, 8th edition, 1967).
  • Formazione dell'Uomo. (1949, 5th edition 1955); dt: The formation of man. ( 1966).
  • The absorbent min (1949; Italian: La ments del bambino 1952 5th edition 1966. ); dt: The creative child. The absorbent mind. (1972).
  • L' Educazione e Pace. (1949, 1972); German: education and peace. (1973).
  • De l' Enfant à l' Adolescent. (1948 ); German: from childhood to adolescence. (2nd edition 1973).