The rebirth of a legend
Around 100 years ago Maria Montessori became Italy's first women
doctor of medicine.
But she did much more. She started a sensory-based learning
method that is now playing a major part in what many are calling
"the learning revolution".
Working with so-called "mental defectives" in
Italy, Maria Montessori taught them to read, write, spell and count
well before starting school.
But even more importantly, she discovered a lasting truth: if
you create the right environment for learning, every very young
children will explode into self-directed learning. And in doing so
they will discover the joy of learning and fulfillment. And they
will go on teaching themselves throughout life.
Montessori built on the research of Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
the 18th century philosopher, who proposed that the key
to learning lies with developing each child's senses, starting with
This movement flowered into prominence as 19th
century innovators linked sensory and early-childhood learning.
Jean-Marc-Gaspart Iratd, Edouard Seguin, Johann Pestallozi and
Friedrich Froebel led this movement, and Montessori was their
She put many of their theories into practice to show that the
years from birth to six are the most vital of all.
The authors of the world's current best-selling book, The
Learning Revolution, come to similar conclusions. But co-authors
Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Vos conclude from all the research
that the best early-childhood development programs combine the best
from Montessori and the best from many other methods.
In the detailed chapter of their book called The vital
years – from birth to ten, they record the world's best
examples of how these methods are coming together with spectacular
results: in countries and states as diverse as Sweden, New Zealand,
Montana and California.
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