Who was Maria Montessori?

In a few weeks I’ll be visiting Sydney, Australia to attend and teach at the Montessori Environments for Dementia International Conference. In the time leading up to the conference, I thought I would share with you some information about the Montessori philosophy and why it is successful for people who are living with dementia. 


“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”  Maria Montessori


Who was Maria Montessori?


Maria Montessori, acclaimed for her revolutionary educational methods, was born in 1870 in Italy. Having an immense thirst for knowledge from early childhood, Maria entered an all-boys technical school at the age of 13 and from there gained admittance to the University of Rome’s medical school.  After graduating in 1896, Maria became the first female doctor in Italy, paving the way and becoming a role model for women of all ages.

Specializing in pediatrics and rehabilitative medicine, Maria opened a childcare center in 1907. She designed learning materials and a classroom environment around the children’s natural desire to learn. She believed that education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.  Her school rapidly became a success and by 1910, Montessori schools were renowned worldwide. The “Montessori Method”, as it is now called, is used as a way to approach dementia care.


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