This is a very short blog about the educationalist Maria Montessori. (1870-1952) Here are three short facts about her.
1. She was one of the first female doctors in Italy. Her attendance at medical school caused consternation and her attendance at class, with men, in the presence of naked bodies was deemed inappropriate. Therefore she had to perform her dissections of cadavers alone and after hours. She smoked cigars in order to mask smells, especially of formaldehyde.
It is rumoured that the only reason she got into medical college was because her name was misread as Mario.
2. Montessori had a son, Mario, with an unnamed doctor. She didn't want to give up her academic life so they agreed not to divulge his identity and that they would never marry anyone else. He later married someone else. Maria left her son to be fostered but subsequently was reunited with him. He carried on her work with her and after her death in 1952. (I discovered this on Wikipedia today-despite studying her methods of education for five years.)
3.Montessori developed her method of education mainly through scientific observation of children. Originally she had developed materials and methods that were for the benefit of children with special needs but later they began to be used in 'mainstream schools.' The materials were well made, usually out of wood, attractive and durable.
She was asked to set up a school for under-privileged children in the San Lorenzo district of Rome in 1907. She called it 'Casa dei Bambini.' The teachers didn't have desks and they were regards more as guides. Allowing the children to choose the materials that they would work with themselves. The 'directress' (all women in those days) would introduce a more difficult exercise to the child when she felt they were ready to move on. The child could use the materials as often and as much as they wanted.
Montessori also introduced child-sized furniture which may seem obvious now but was not common practice then. Her school was a huge success.