History of Montessori
Montessori is a specific pedagogy (system of education), developed by an Italian woman named Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori actually graduated in medicine, worked as a doctor and university lecturer for 10 years, and had no pedagogical training at all. She did, however, work with "deficit children" from psychiatric wards and studied child disease. She thus became very interested in the care and education of young children. Maria Montessori opened her first "children's house" in Rome in 1906. It was a huge success and people from all over the world came to observe it. She wrote books, traveled all over the world lecturing, trained teachers in her method, and oversaw the opening of new schools. Many people argue that, in fact, her lack of training was the key to her success. She observed the children closely, saw what they were interested in, noticed what they responded to and made changes in the school to reflect these observations. She used her scientific training to figure out what was really best for the children, rather than just following some theory of education that someone thought sounded good. She also seems not to have been afraid to try something different. Many of her ideas were quite radical at the time and are still controversial.
Currently there are Montessori schools in over 100 countries around the world; there are over 5000 Montessori schools in the US alone. The majority of the schools are preschools but in recent years Montessori elementary schools have become popular as well. There are also a few Montessori infant toddler programs and Montessori high schools.
There are now many different kinds of Montessori schools and many different kinds of Montessori teacher training. Monkey See Monkey Do follows the AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) principles and has AMI trained teachers. This Association was started by Maria Montessori and is based in Amsterdam. AMI oversees teacher training, material standards, and organizes conferences worldwide. It is the Montessori training which most closely follows Maria Montessori's vision for education.