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Dr Maria Montessori

Founder of the Montessori method of education

Born: 31 August 1870

Died: 6 May 1952

A Bit About Dr Montessori

Dr Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, innovator and educator best known for her philosophy of education and her writing and lecturing on scientific pedagogy.She was the first woman to enter and graduate medical school in Italy, and was a passionate advocate for women's rights. 

Dr Montessori's early work with children with learning difficulties together with her understanding of paediatrics and study of educational pedagogy, led to her being appointed to the position of Co-director of the Scuola Magistrale Ortofrenica, or Orthophrenic School, in Rome, a "medico-pedagogical institute" for training teachers in educating children with learning difficulties.While there, she trained a number of teachers in psychology, the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, anthropological measurements, causes and characteristics of mental disability, and special methods of instruction. She also developed methods and materials which she later adapted for use with mainstream children and which form the foundation of the Montessori Materials seen in Montessori classrooms around the world today. 

After her time at the Orthoprenic School, Dr Montessori expanded her studies to include philosophy, anthropology and psychology and turned to dedicating her time to the development of what she referred to as a 'scientific pedagogy'. She published a number of articles on pedagogy in respected journals and becoming a much sought after lecturer on the subject. 

The Casa dei Bambini

The first Casa dei Bambini, or Children's House, was opened by Dr Montessori within an apartment block for low-income working families in the San Lorenzo district in Rome. Here children between the ages of 3-6yrs were allowed free choice of materials, the opportunity to engage in uninterrupted work, and the freedom of movement and activity within the limits set by the environment. Dr Montessori began to see independence as the aim of education, and the role of the teacher being that as an observer and director of children's innate psychological development.


Throughout her life, Dr Montessori expanded her study and observation of children to include infancy and adolescence, allowing her to create a wholistic view of the development of the child from birth to age 24. The Montessori Method we see embraced by educators and families today often starts at conception and includes the Nido (Nest) for 0-3 yr olds, the Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) for 3-6yr olds, the Primary or Elementary school (for 6-12 yr olds) and the Erd Kinder for 12-18 yr olds.  

Montessori World Wide

The success of the first Casa dei Bambini led to the opening of a number of Children's Houses across Italy, and the emergence of teacher training courses presented by Dr Montessori for educators wishing to follow her method. As the demand for training grew, she gave up her medical practice  to devote more time to her educational work, expanding and developing her methods to cater school aged children, and training teachers. She also began regularly publishing her works and findings.

Internationally, Dr Montessori's work began to draw the attention of educators across the world and it wasn't long before the Montessori Method was being adopted in schools across Italy, Switzerland and the UK. As her work was translated into more languages, Montessori schools then began to open in Paris and many other Western European cities. Montessori education then spread to Argentina, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Switzerland, Syria, the US and New Zealand. Public programs in London, Johannesburg, Rome, and Stockholm adopted the method in their school systems and Montessori societies were founded in the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Montessori Today

Today, Montessori education is found in over 150 countries around the world, with over 22, 000 schools on 6 continents implementing the Montessori Method.


At St Catherines' Montessori our vision includes the provision of a Home Education Support program for school-aged children, and expansion to include a Nido, a Casa dei Bambini and Erd Kinder in the future. 

"The greatest gift we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence" Dr Maria Montessori. 

The Life of Dr Maria Montessori 

May 6th, 1952














August 31, 1870

Death, aged 81 in the Netherlands 

Dr Montessori speaks at annual UNESCO Conference

Emphasis on Education for Peace seen in lectures and publications

Association Montessori Internationale established

Montessori Education comes to Australia

Montessori Educational Association established in the USA

First International Training Course is Presented by Dr Montessori

First Training Course is Presented by Dr Montessori in Italy

First Casa dei Bambini opens

Co-Founder of The Scuola Magistrate Ortofrenica

Begins lecturing at teacher training college for Women in Rome

Birth of son, Mario Montessori

Began work with International Women's Congress

Graduated as the first female Doctor of Medicine in Italy

Birth in Italy

Why Montessori?

One of the questions we are regularly asked is Why? Why Montessori? 

Our answer is this:

Montessori education encourages the development of the whole child for life. It is not a philosophy focused on educating each child exactly the same way with the goal of exactly the same outcomes by the time the child finishes school but rather an approach to education which embraces the individuality of each child and supports them through their own individual and very unique journey. Montessori educators trust the child.They are patient, they are kind, they care, they listen and most of all they allow the children the opportunity to advocate for themselves within the educational context of the Montessori school.  Through foundations firmly established in an understanding of Child Development, Montessori Guides trust that all children are on a journey to become members of society who demonstrate maturity, imagination, a love of learning, and good moral character.


With the world coming out of a global pandemic which turned our lives upside down, what can be more relevant than an educational philosophy built on the foundations of Peace Education and Grace & Courtesy?


Peace Education

Dr Montessori believed that each generation of children brings renewed hope for a more peaceful world. Peace Education is the pillar of Montessori education which aims to equip students with the interpersonal skills needed to be productive and contributing members of a thriving community through the development of self-reflection, conflict resolution, and problem solving skills . As children grow, their awareness extends to the wider community around them and they turn their attention to societal challenges, such as social justice, racial inequity, and poverty on a Local, National and Global Scale. Students also regularly participate in community outreach and partner with local volunteer organisations so they can truly be active rather than passive members of their society.

"An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.” —Dr Maria Montessori

Grace & Courtesy 

When you hear a Montessori Guide speak about Grace & Courtesy they are referring to the other pillar of Montessori philosophy which teaches students how to show respect for themselves and others, how to give constructive criticism, what kind of behaviour is pleasing to others and what behaviour is not healthy in other people’s eyes and how to express opinions while respecting others’ thoughts, feelings, moods, and opinions.  It is on the foundation of Grace & Courtesy that the classroom flows throughout the day and it is Grace and Courtesy which helps Montessori environments feel less like a school and more like a community.

Grace - the ability to use their will to show comfort and respect in themselves.

Courtesy - showing that same grace and respect toward others.

So why Montessori? 

Because today more than ever, society needs our children to have the skills to become innovative, creative and independent thinkers, with the confidence to take action and make a difference to the world around them. Montessori education presents children with the tools and skills to use them, for life. It is through experiencing the rich education that follows the natural developmental trajectory of children which is Montessori education, that children are inspired towards a lifelong love of learning  so they can become confident, responsible and independent learners.

Watch the video for another perspective on Montessori Education... 

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