Maria Montessori

Some years ago, whilst I was actively involved with the project of ‘ecoles complementaires ’ directed by my dear friend Jean Noel Adolphe, I had to learn and to upgrade my knowledge in the subject. The ‘pedagogy of love’ used to be the theme developed by Jean Noel  as the differentiating factor between the normal school and ‘ecoles complementaires’ when presenting his project with the incompetent, non experienced volunteers that would ready commit to give in their time and energy to a great cause.

At the back stage of the organisation a fantastic team of committed real professional educationists ensured that the volunteers are trained fast and adequately to provide the learning that is expected. That slice of my life brought me to read and study Education, Pedagogy and learning. I avid read of methods devised by Jean Baptise de La Salle, Piaget, Montessori and many others. A new world was opened to me. I was introduced previously to this world through the opening of learning models of NLP. I was very keen on the accelerated learning methods developed following the discoveries of the brain.

For the reopening of the school year today in France, the French Radio in a talk show broadcasted the wonderful story of Maria Montessori. Did you know that in Italy of the 1890’s women were not permitted to study medicine in universities? Maria fought and managed to become a doctor. This has rekindled my interest in the marvellous life of Maria and the influence she had in the world of child pedagogy.

Aside from a new pedagogy, among the premier contributions to educational thought by Montessori are:

  • instruction of children in 3-year age groups, corresponding to sensitive periods of development (example: Birth-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15 year olds with an Erdkinder (German for “Land Children”) program for early teens
  • children as competent beings, encouraged to make maximal decisions
  • observation of the child in the prepared environment as the basis for ongoing curriculum development (presentation of subsequent exercises for skill development and information accumulation)
  • small, child-sized furniture and creation of a small, child-sized environment (microcosm) in which each can be competent to produce overall a self-running small children’s world
  • creation of a scale of sensitive periods of development, which provides a focus for class work that is appropriate and uniquely stimulating and motivating to the child (including sensitive periods for language development, sensorial experimentation and refinement, and various levels of social interaction)
  • the importance of the “absorbent mind,” the limitless motivation of the young child to achieve competence over his or her environment and to perfect his or her skills and understandings as they occur within each sensitive period. The phenomenon is characterized by the young child’s capacity for repetition of activities within sensitive period categories (Example: exhaustive babbling as language practice leading to language competence).
  • self-correcting “auto-didactic” materials (some based on work of Jean Marc Gaspard Itard and Edouard Seguin)


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