"Follow the child"
Dr Maria Montessori
The Montessori approach to learning has grown from a deep understanding of the developmental processes of the child. Dr Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952) recognised that all children have an immense capacity and desire to learn, which she called “the absorbent mind”. She developed the "prepared environment", a non-competitive truly child-centred environment in which equipment and activities are readily available, allowing the children to explore, experiment and develop at their own pace, according to their own capacities, facing new challenges when ready. This method of child-centred learning within a prepared environment continues to contribute to educational reform around the world and across all social, economic and cultural backgrounds.
Maria Montessori was the first woman in Italy to graduate as a doctor of medicine. Postgraduate studies in philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and anthropology followed and at the age of 28 was invited to take over the welfare of children considered uneducable in a Rome hospital. When Dr Montessori secretly presented the children at the public examinations for primary certificates, they all passed. Drawing on her experience, Dr Montessori concluded that if children with learning difficulties could achieve academic levels expected in the mainstream, then there were issues with the system that had deemed them unteachable.
In 1907 Maria Montessori was given the opportunity to test and extend her methods with children aged three to seven years old in a social housing project in Rome. So began the first 'Casa dei Bambini' or ‘Children’s House’. The reputation of her methods spread internationally and Dr Montessori was nominated on three occasions for the Nobel Peace Prize (1949, 1950 and 1951) for her contribution towards peace through education and philosophy. Throughout her career she worked with many now household names in science and development such as Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Anna Freud, Alexander Graham-Bell and Rabindraneth Tagore. She was even the face of the 1000 Italian Lira banknote! Today Montessori schools are found all over the world and are considered a standard and accessible form of education, a vision held dearly by all at Brighton & Hove Montessori School.
Montessori graduates include Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Nobel prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Maxis/Electronic Arts founder Will Wright, chef and author Julia Child, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and among others Emilia Fox, George Clooney, Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Coombes and most recently Prince George!