Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori, born August 31, 1870, is a famous name in the education sector. Originally having studied to be a doctor, Montessori found her passion for children and teaching and revolutionized the way educators teach children. She developed a novel teaching method that has been incorporated into over 20,000 school curriculums across the world. Not only did she work to improve the way kids learn, but she was also an advocate for world peace and helping the poor. Learn more about her remarkable career and life, here!

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori

Birth date:

August 31, 1870

Death date:

May 6, 1952 (age 81)

Zodiac Sign:

Virgo

Height:

5' 5"

Net Worth:

$1.5 million

Background

Maria Montessori is a well-known figure in schools in all four corners of the globe. Not only was she an incredible teacher, but she was also an accomplished doctor and humanitarian. Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in Chiaravalle in Italy. Her father, Alessandro, was working in a state-run tobacco factory. Her mother, Renilde Stoppani, was remarkably well-educated for a woman in the late 19th century in Europe. Stoppani encouraged Montessori to pursue an extensive education. Montessori graduated from secondary school (high school) in 1886 and then went on to study at a technical institute, excelling particularly in Mathematics and the natural sciences. After passing her degree in natural sciences at the University of Rome in 1890, she was eventually accepted to the university’s medical school, which was highly unusual for a woman at that time, in 1893. She finished her medical degree in 1896 and after working as an assistant at the university’s hospital, she set up a private practice.

For five years after finishing medical school, she worked with children with mental disabilities and continued to conduct research at the university’s psychiatric clinic. In 1900, she was appointed as a co-director at the Orthophrenic School, an institution that specialized in training teachers to work with mentally disabled children. During her two years at the school, she developed a wide range of teaching materials and methods that she would later incorporate into her teaching style known as the Montessori method. In 1907, she was invited to work at an institution for children of working parents, known as the Casa dei Bambini (or Children’s House), and began applying her method to mainstream education. She noticed that when given the right materials, freedom to move around, an appropriate environment, and a greater degree of independence, children were more ready and willing to learn.

Her success in the classroom quickly started attracting positive attention from other educators, public figures, and journalists. In 1909, before she even turned 30, she held her first teacher training course in her method. Her excellent reputation soon spread across the world and her work on pedagogy (the study of teaching and learning) quickly became favored globally. Only two years later, in 1911, her teaching method was officially incorporated into school curriculums across her native Italy and Switzerland. Montessori schools and societies were soon established across the world, including in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. She continued to lecture, speak at events, and host training sessions until she died in 1952.

Career timeline

1892
She Completes a Degree in Natural Sciences

She passes all her examinations in physics, chemistry, zoology, botany, and several other scientific subjects.

1896
She Graduates from Medical School

She is one of the first women to attend medical school in Italy and she graduates with honors.

1897
She Begins Her Medical Career

She is accepted as a voluntary assistant at the University of Rome’s psychiatric clinic and begins working with disabled children.

1900
She Co-directs the Orthophrenic School

Montessori is appointed as co-director at the Orthophrenic School, an institution that trained teachers to work with mentally disabled children.

1907
She Starts Working with Mainstream Education Students

The first Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, is opened and Montessori accepts a position there to teach children without mental disabilities.

1909
The First Montessori Method Class is Held

She holds her first teacher training course in the Montessori method she had developed.

1911
The Montessori Method is Officially Recognised

Her education method is approved for public schools in Italy and Switzerland for the first time.

Why We Love Maria Montessori

  1. She was an advocate for peace

    Although Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was an avid supporter of Montessori education, she opposed his fascist dictatorship and consequently left Italy during his dictatorship. After he appointed spies to keep an eye on her and her son, she decided to move to England and then the Netherlands.

  2. She worked to help impoverished children

    She was a member of the Theosophical Society, a group dedicated to using education to alleviate poverty. She helped educate some of India’s poorest children during her time in the country.

  3. She worked with UNESCO

    She helped to found the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Lifelong Learning, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education globally to work towards world peace and security. She was also a representative for Italy at various UNESCO conferences.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. She originally wanted to study engineering

    Montessori excelled in Mathematics and the sciences and originally wanted to become an engineer but changed her mind and studied medicine instead.

  2. She had to perform her dissections after-hours

    Because she was a woman and it was inappropriate to be around naked cadavers in a class with men at medical school, she had to complete her dissections alone after classes.

  3. She took up smoking because of university

    Montessori used tobacco products to cover up the smell of formaldehyde, a substance used to preserve cadavers.

  4. She never married

    Although she had a son, Mario, with fellow doctor Giuseppe Montesano, the couple never married as Montessori would have had to stop working if they had.

  5. She was a Nobel Prize nominee

    The doctor and teacher was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Maria Montessori FAQs

What are the five principles of the Montessori method?

Respect for the child, the absorbent mind, sensitive periods, the prepared environment, and auto education.

What is MACTE?

MACTE is the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education which works to improve approved Montessori training for teachers and educators.

What is the “reasoning mind?”

According to the Montessori method, children between the ages of six and 12 start developing their reasoning mind which refers to a child’s desire to question how the world works and to pursue answers to these questions themselves.

Maria Montessori’s birthday dates

YearDateDay
2022August 31Wednesday
2023August 31Thursday
2024August 31Saturday
2025August 31Sunday
2026August 31Monday

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