The word “Montessori” has become synonymous with quality education. And the life of the woman who carried the name and created the teaching phenomenon makes for a fascinating story in its own right.
Maria Montessori became an Italian doctor in the late 1800’s, at a time when most women didn’t pursue careers. She was fascinated with attempts to educate developmentally challenged children, and quickly became a leading, sought-after authority in the field.
Using a sensory-based approach to education, Dr. Montessori opened a school for challenged children. So successful was the approach that several students were able to enter mainstream, public schools.
It was Dr. Montessori’s belief that each child came naturally equipped with an absorbent mind. Her findings showed that allowing students some latitude in directing their studies resulted in higher motivation, and greater success. Rather than grilling students to memorize facts (which they often quickly forgot,) Dr. Montessori argued for the creation of an environment that would surround students with true learning.
Dr. Montessori lead a long and active life that included authoring 25 books on her educational prescriptions, extensive travel, as well as the training of educators and supervision of schools. Wichita Montessori School is proud to have a special connection to this educational pioneer: Our founding Directress of the Primary Program, Indranie Weerakoon, was personally instructed by Dr. Montessori, in the 1940s, in Sri Lanka.