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(Chiaravalle, 1870 - Noordwjek, 1952) Teacher Italian which renewed the teaching developing a particular method, known as the Montessori method, to be applied initially in Italian elementary schools and later around the world. Especially aimed at children in the preschool stage, based on promoting the initiative and responsiveness of the child through the use of a specially designed teaching materials. The method proposed a great diversification of the work and the maximum possible freedom, so that children learn largely by itself and at the rate of their own discoveries.
Montessori with her students (London, 1940)
Graduated in medicine in 1896 at the University of Rome, Assistant the following year at the Department of Psychiatry at the University, was driven by his deep instinct to the study of deficient children and warned immediately that their problem, rather than medical, was educational. He explained his ideas on this subject in the pedagogical Congress of 1898 in Turin. Minister Baccelli commissioned him to give a course to Roma teachers on the education of the mentally deficient children, or "psychopaths", course which later became a school master Scuola Ortofrenica, directed by Montessori for two years.
He then went to London and Paris to delve into these studies, then attending courses in philosophy at the University of Rome and of experimental psychology, convinced that the education of the child was having its first and essential foundation in scientific, somatic and psychic knowledge of his being. The reading of the works of j-m-G. Itard and E. Séguin, the two illustrious masters of education of abnormal in France, helped it to deepen the problems of education special, well soon appeared as application and revelation of the general laws of the child's education.
The work then developed between children psychopaths using a fruitful and practical experience resulted in the emergence of a Montessori teorizadora and organizer of a general method of early childhood education. In 1907, in January, commissioned by the Institute dei Beni Stabili in Rome, opened a Montessori in one of the new working-class neighborhoods, the first "House of children", to which will soon follow another, also in Rome. From there, the institution spread by Italy and even more by the rest of the world, taking the character of an independent institution, organized in a more clear way as an original method of early childhood education.
This method, already mature by the experience and reflection, was exposed by Montessori on the volume Il method pedagogy applicato all scientifica della'autoeducazione infantile nella Casa dei bambini (1909), edited most late several times (1913, 1935, until the fourth, of 1950, appeared with the title La scoperta from the bambino) and soon translated into the main languages.
Montessori with her students (London, 1940)
The method was to develop the autonomy of the child, who was in the "House" the material essential to the exercise of the senses, objects appropriate to their interests and their physical proportions, and the possibilities of applying, with his personal work and according to his choice, to the solution of interesting practical problems, using varied materials available.
The dominant principle was the leaving do; monitor for help if necessary; have faith in the immense value of a free activity developed with a view to specific purposes adopted by the child, capable of secure development and lead, little by little, spontaneous discoveries and conquests as a natural rhythm and according to a succession of "sensitive periods", linked to particular interests of the child, which was necessary to know understand and meet at the right time to not let the occasion it provides without the indispensable exercise.
It was a program and an apostolate that came with own characters in the movement of the "active school" and which ran between more or less with Rousseau and Friedrich Froebel. The next work, L'autoeducazione nelle scuole elementari (Turin, 1910), also reprinted twice in 1916 and 1940, applied the method to the teaching in the elementary school.
Meanwhile, since 1909, professed in Città di Castello courses for teachers, protected by two distinguished popular education, Leopoldo and Alice Franchetti, and wrote articles in Italian and in English, to illustrate his method and his thought, which later synthesized in Manuele di pedagogy scientifica (Naples, 1921). From 1913-14, multiply your stays in North America and many European countries: Germany, Great Britain, Spain (Barcelona was the city that became interested in the new methods), the Netherlands and Sweden. He was then in China and in the India, and at the same time were broadcast all over the world "Houses" montesorianas.
His influence was also felt in countries such as France, Austria and Switzerland. Meanwhile, his works were translated into almost all the languages and the thought of Montessori, still preserving the essential lines, developing spiritual germs, sometimes mystical view of nature, religious inspiration, which came in the first works.
The stages of its evolution, to include influences of psychoanalysis, are represented by volume Il segreto dell'infanzia, published in Bellinzona in 1938 and then in Milan in 1950; by testing Il bambino in famiglia, 1936; for the work De l'enfant à l'Adolescent (Paris), not translated into Italian; the mind of the bambino (Milan, 1952), posthumous Italian translation of the work published in English in Madras, in 1949, with the title The absorbent mind, and by the fourth edition of the first fundamental work, under the title La scoperta from the bambino, op.cit.
In conferences, courses, congresses formidable educator activity took place. Also was founded in Barcelona, in 1916, a "small church", application of the principles of the 'House' to the religious education of children, subject to which he devoted after some trials (I bambini nella Chiesa viventi, 1924;) ( La Santa Messa spiegata ai bambini, 1949).
Increasingly more concentrated their apostolate in the idea that children educated with full respect for their freedom and their infinite resources should be the educator of the adult, the regeneration of mankind, and that the formation of man according to the principles preached by she could and debla ensure the triumph of Justice and peace in the world. Small volume Formazione dell'uomo (1949) and three trials contained in Educazione e pace (1949), represent, arguably, his spiritual Testament. In the last years of his life he participated in remarkable and competent manner in the work of UNESCO and founded the Centre of pedagogical studies at the University for foreigners of Perugia.