It was more than a century ago that the first Montessori school was launched. In 1907, Italian physician Dr. Maria Montessori opened a one-classroom schoolhouse for children in Rome. In this “Casa de Bambini,” or Children’s House, Dr. Montessori put into practice a few radically new ideas for her time:
Observe what children enjoy and what aids their overall development instead of pushing a one-size-fits-all curriculum.
Be open to change based on constant trial and error instead of trying to hold onto past ways.
Offer each unique child the freedom (within limits) to learn at his or her own pace versus treating children the same and sticking them in rows of desks to be talked at.
And all of this worked. Really worked! The “new children” that came out of Dr. Montessori’s school were transformed, and word of the results spread rapidly. Within only a few years of the first little “Casa”, Montessori schools had popped up around the world.
Fast forward to 2018, and many of our greatest leaders are still touting the benefits of Montessori education, especially for students of disadvantaged backgrounds. In fact, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has recently unveiled a new billion-dollar project: he will create a network of nonprofit preschools that are to be built in low-income communities and accept students at no charge! This initiative perfectly complements the work we have been doing at MLK Montessori for 50 years.
As a Montessori alum, Mr. Bezos knows firsthand the value of this distinctive form of education, which nurtures the development of resourceful, independent, and respectful children who embrace a lifelong love of learning. His vision to bring Montessori education to underserved communities, which is where it all began, more than 100 years ago, reflects the spirit of Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy, in which children are seen as the eventual purveyors of worldwide peace and social justice.
Dr. Montessori said, “The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.” We at MLK Montessori couldn’t agree more.