“Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.”
The first Casa dei Bambini was opened in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman physician in Italy. Originally built for children of the slums of Rome, it was based on the idea of preparing children to become learners. She developed exercises that prepared children to read and write. They became enabled to direct their own learning. Learning came naturally. Through self-directed, individualized learning in a prepared classroom children developed a sense of order, an ability to concentrate, control over their bodies, and independence.
“In order to learn the children must first be able to concentrate…. But no one can force concentration upon them. They develop concentration by fixing their attention on some task they are performing with their hands….”
The Montessori method is more than just a teaching method. Having lived through two world wars, Dr. Montessori had a vision for peace. She believed that children have an inner spirit of love that needs to be nurtured and that only through educating children about tolerance and peaceful co-existence could the world become peaceful. So she developed a peace curriculum based on the common needs of all humans (food, shelter, clothing, transportation, art, spirituality, and defense). It begins in the youngest classes with grace and courtesy lessons, care of the environment, the peace table, “using your words” to solve conflict and geography lessons. It includes in-depth study of other cultures, service learning, and global environmental awareness.
“Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education.”
The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seed may be sown to grow under the hear of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore is not merely to make the children understand, and still less to force them to memorize, but so to touch they imagination as to enthuse them to their inmost core.”