At the beginning of the 20th century, the Italian educator Maria Montessori observed that children have an expansive capacity to learn, if instruction is tailored to meet their individual needs. Based on the “hands-on” exploration of concrete materials, her system allowed children to acquire a greater depth of conceptual knowledge, through the actual manipulation of physical objects. Learning moved beyond the limitation of the two dimensions of chalk and blackboard or paper and pencil. Children explored with their senses: tactile, visual, olfactory, gustatory, and auditory. Educators around the world became interested in this innovative approach, and a century later, Montessori materials and programs are now found everywhere, in both public and private schools.
Dr. Montessori based her philosophy on the scientific observation of young children’s behavior. Montessori was the first woman physician to graduate from the University of Rome, and the phenomenal results of her work with children won her a Nobel Prize nomination and worldwide acclaim for her methods.
The MFS Approach
Maria Montessori is to Montessori educators as Albert Einstein is to modern physicists. She developed the basic tools and a general philosophy and approach for learning. While MFS adheres to Montessori’s basic approach, much has been learned since she did her pioneering work, and the MFS curriculum incorporates a modern understanding of childhood development and brain-based research.
As Montessori educators, the teachers at MFS know that concentrated skill building and a love of learning lead to high self-esteem and a profound sense of self. Dr. Montessori clearly stated that the goal of her educational method was world peace. In this quest, she was a great pioneer, recognizing, like Gandhi, that peace begins with children. MFS supports this goal by encouraging the development of humane problem-solving and conflict resolution skills in a holistic, ethical environment.