Developed in the early 1900s, the Montessori Method was the vision of Italian educator and physician, Dr Maria Montessori. A pioneer of women’s rights and equal education, Montessori envisioned a classroom where children could harness their strengths as a conduit to learning. By promoting independence in a nurturing environment, her method allowed students to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally.
Unlike rigid curricula that focused solely on academics, Montessori’s approach concentrated on the child. Though lessons are structured around traditional subjects, students are encouraged to learn at their own pace in a non-competitive environment. Staffed by compassionate educators who value individuality, a variety of ages and abilities are accommodated in each school, allowing for students to develop intra- and interpersonal skills for success both in school and throughout life.
In the United States, the Montessori Method quickly rose to fame over the course of the early 20th century. An alternative to traditional education, Americans from all walks of life were astounded by the seeming miracle of Montessori’s innovative design. Where before unruly children had been deemed unteachable, parents and teachers suddenly found that children weren’t just learning, but eager to do so. Intended to boost self-confidence and creativity, Montessori’s Method was living proof that a child’s potential to be productive was inspired not by adult direction, but by internal motivation.
Unfortunately, economic hardship and harsh criticism of her method by influential scholars soon led to a rapid decline in the popularity of Montessori’s approach. Where before there had been over 100 of her schools across the United States, virtually none remained by 1920. Over the next forty years, the US educational system prioritized a conservative approach, until a combined effort by one of Montessori’s original students (Dr. Nancy Rambusch) and her own son, Mario, reestablished the presence of the Montessori Method in the United States. Bolstered by the inception of the American Montessori Academy (established by Rambusch in 1960), thousands of schools across the country are currently affiliated in some way with the Montessori Method.