Maria Montessori 150 years
“On the higher educational level, justice is something truly spiritual; it tries to ensure that every child shall make the best of himself (achieve his potential). Justice is to give every human being the necessary help to bring about the fullest spiritual stature. Service of the spirit at every age means helping those energies that are at work to bring this about. This perhaps will be the basis on which society will be organized in the future.
Nothing of these spiritual treasures shall be lost. In comparison with these, economic treasures have no value. Whether I be rich or poor does not matter. If I can attain the full measures of my powers, the economic problem solves itself. When humankind as a whole can fully perfect its spirit, it will become more productive, and the economic aspect of life will cease to be dominant. Men do not produce with their feet and their bodies, but with their spirit and intelligence, and when all these shall have reached the level of development which is proper to them, then all our “insoluble problems” will have been solved.”
Maria Montessori in The Absorbent Mind (1949).
This year (and to be exact just a little more than a week ago, Aug 31 2020) we celebrate the 150th birthday of Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator and philantropist, well known for her educational philosophy and method that builds on the way children learn naturally.
She opened the first Montessori school in Rome in January of 1907 and it didn’t take many years for the pedagogical thoughts and methods to spread all over the world. She started working with younger children but later also developed her method for age-group 6–12 years, and she talked and lectured about learning and human development for kids and youths in the age-groups 12 and 18, and 18 and 24.
She was always interested in social justice and peace and she believed whole-heartedly that children should be taught global citizenship, respect for diversity and personal responsibility. Emotional, spiritual and moral development was needed to develop the thinking and strength needed to refuse to follow a leader into war.
“But humanity is not yet ready for the evolution that it desires so ardently, the construction of a peaceful and harmonious society that shall eliminate war. Men are not sufficiently educated to control events, so become their victims. Noble ideas, great sentiments have always found utterance, but wars have not ceased! If education were to continue along the lines of mere transmission of knowledge, the problem would be insoluble and there would be no hope for the world… we have before us in the child a psychic entity, a social group of immense size, a veritable world-power if rightly used. If salvation and help are to come, it is from the child, for the child is the constructor of man, and so of society. The child is endowed with an inner power which can guide us to a more luminous future. Education should no longer be mostly about the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities.”
Maria Montessori in Education for a New World (1947)
These quotes are from the end of her life, she died in 1952, but they are still very relevant. Even though most of us do not have to live with an overshadowing fear of war there are still a lot of hatred, intolerance and inequality in the world – things we undoubtedly have to deal with in the years to come.
And, as you know if you’ve followed our reasoning in former blogs and social media, we in Teal School fully agree with Maria Montessori’s words above; education should no longer be mostly about the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Happy birthday Maria Montessori, your legacy lives on.