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Summary Article: Montessori, Maria (1870–1952) from Encyclopedia of the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education

Maria Montessori was a physician, an educational reformer, and an advocate for children and peace. She is best known for designing the educational system known as the Montessori Method, which flourishes today in more than 8,000 schools on five continents.

The first Montessori School, known as the Casa dei Bambini, was opened in 1907 as part of an urban renewal project located in the poor district of San Lorenzo in Rome. The well-publicized success of her experiments in the Casa marked a decisive turning point in her life. In 1907, she left the practice of medicine and devoted the remainder of her life to education. From this point, until her death in 1952, Montessori traveled the world establishing Montessori schools; training centers for teachers; and the professional society charged with perpetuating the integrity of the method, The Association Montessori Internationale.

Having spent the better part of her life as a war refugee, Montessori was inspired by the belief that education based on the developmental needs of children could create a new generation of adults who, through proper formation, would be able to forge a new vision for peace. She called this “the science of peace,” and it infused all aspects of her method of education.

Further Readings
  • Kramer, R. (1988). Maria Montessori: A biography. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.
  • Jacqueline Cossentino
    Copyright © 2008 by Sage Publications, Inc.

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