Visit the Google homepage today and you will be greeted with a fresh doodle commemorating the 142nd birth anniversary of Maria Montessori – better known for the philosophy of education that she pioneered. 

The doodle itself is rather colourful with elements key to the methods of Montessori education. The elements of Montessori education depicted in the doodle, form the word – Google.

Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori, or Maria Montessori, was born on this day in 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy. She was born to Alessandro Montessori, an official in the Ministry of Finance and Renilde Stoppani. In 1876, at the age of 6, she entered a public elementary school in Rome. Montessori won herself certificates for good behaviour in the 1st grade and for “lavori donneschi”, the year after. 

Doodle for the pioneer of Montessori education

Doodle for the pioneer of Montessori education

In 1883 or 1884, at the age of 13 she enrolled herself in a secondary, technical school Regia Scuola Tecnica Michelangelo Buonarroti to study  Italian, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, accounting, history, geography and sciences. She graduated in 1886. Interestingly, she did exceptionally well in the sciences and in mathematics. Although she intended to pursue the study of engineering upon graduation, at the outset, by the time she graduated at the age of 20 with a certificate in physics–mathematics, she had decided to study medicine. 

In her early career, Montessori worked with and researched on children with some form of mental and/or physical disabilities and illness. She pushed for the education of mentally disabled children, and doing so began to travel, speak, study and publish nationally and internationally. 

In 1906, she was invited to supervise the care and education of some children of working parents in a new apartment building for families with low-income in the San Lorenzo district in Rome. The name Casa dei Bambini, or Children's House, was suggested to Montessori and the first Casa opened on January 6, 1907, with 50 or 60 children between the ages of two or three and six or seven. Here, Montessori evolved her methods by keenly observing the way children were taking to the new method. What began as a classroom with teacher's table and blackboard, a stove, small chairs, armchairs and group tables for the children, and a locked cabinet for the materials that Montessori had developed at the Orthopophrenic School, soon turned into a classroom with child-sized tables and chairs light enough for the children to move;  child-sized materials were placed on low, accessible shelves, among other things. 

Montessori education in India began when an Indian student attended the first international course in Rome. Through the 1920s and 1930s, students began coming back to the country to start schools and promote Montessori education. In fact, by 1929, the revered Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore had founded many “Tagore-Montessori” schools in the country. 

At the age of 76, Montessori came to Amsterdam. However, she spent the next six years travelling in Europe and India. In India, she returned and gave courses in Adyar and Ahemdabad. Montessori died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Noordwijk aan Zee, the Netherlands, at the age of 81. 

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