The History and Origins of the Montessori Method of Learning

The Montessori method of education has always been characterized as a more holistic, self-paced, and experiential approach to learning. Many Montessori schools in Springville, NY, California, Arizona, Minnesota, and other states have since adopted the method into their own curriculum. But before it became one of the most well-known alternative schools in the country and in the world, it all started with a woman named Maria Montessori. Let’s explore the life of Maria and how she founded the Montessori method of learning.

How It All Started

Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in the provincial town of Chiaravalle, Italy. She was raised in a family that prized education by her father, a financial manager, and her mother, a well-educated woman who was the great-niece of a known Italian geologist. Maria was well-schooled and an avid reader, which was quite unusual for Italian women at the time. In fact, she was quite a sterling student, confident, ambitious, and unwilling to be limited by traditional expectations for women. At age 13, she entered an all-boys technical institute to prepare for a career in engineering.

In time, however, Maria changed her mind and decided to pursue a career in medicine instead. She was accepted into medical school and was able to complete her studies after a few years.

Birth of a Movement

After graduating, Maria’s early medical practice focused on psychiatry. Eventually, she developed an interest in education, and she started immersing herself in educational theory while taking classes in pedagogy.

At this point, Dr. Maria Montessori started her research on children with disabilities. She realized that children build themselves from what they find in their environment. Her findings on how children learn from their environment are what inspired her to return to the University of Rome to study psychology and philosophy and later teach anthropology.

On January 6, 1907, Dr. Montessori founded her first Casa dei Bambini, which is Italian for “Children’s House.” She was determined to make the Casa an environment where quality education is at its center. While teaching underprivileged children, Dr. Montessori recognized that the youngsters responded to the materials with a deep concentration and exhibited calm, peaceful behavior. Through scientific observation, she discovered that children absorb knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves.

Breaking Barriers in Education

Through her experience and the observations she found in her research, Dr. Montessori designed unique learning materials for them, many of which are still in use in Montessori schools all over the world. Eventually, news of the school’s success soon spread everywhere.

The innovative Montessori method began attracting the attention of prominent educators eager to learn it. Some of them even learned from Dr. Montessori herself.

Embodying Catholic Traditions

Dr. Montessori herself was a devout catholic. The method of learning she developed is very much Catholic in nature. Since the Montessori method is pretty much centered around the development of the person or the child, it seamlessly follows the teachings of Catholicism. In fact, Dr. Montessori even wrote extensively about the innate religiosity of children and strongly believed that education cultivates the mind, body, and soul of every child. While the Montessori method has evolved over the years and has been used even by non-Catholic schools and congregations, it still remains to be rooted in the Catholic Church’s traditions as Dr. Montessori designed it.


St. Aloysius Regional School is a Montessori school in Springville, NY, that celebrates Dr. Montessori’s teachings by integrating her methods into our very curriculum. We offer a robust teaching program focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and religious instruction. For quality Montessori education, enroll your child in St. Aloysius Regional School today.