Cristina Kerr, our Primary 2 Assistant, journeyed to Rome this summer and VISITED THE VERY FIRST MONTESSORI CHILDREN’S HOUSE. Dr. Maria Montessori’s own Casa dei Bambini! Instantaneous delight upon reading Cristina’s words- what a treasured experience for her as she not only lives and breathes Montessori, but she also graduated with her AMI Montessori diploma this summer. Many, MANY thanks to Cristina for this beautiful share!
I wanted to send you a few pictures from my visit to the first Casa dei Bambini in Rome. Unfortunately, we could not get inside because there was no one there, and the doorman told us we would need an appointment. I was pretty sad about that, but who knew?
To be honest, the simple fact that I was there gave me the chills. When we were getting close, I ran so I could get there faster. When I arrived, I was so overwhelmed with emotions to see the place where it all started 109 years ago!
The inside courtyard was a very peaceful place although peoples’ windows were facing in, and, of course, almost every window had the washed clothes hanging out there to dry. Natural and simple living. There was a lot of greenery in the middle- trees, bushes, flowers…all of it beautiful!
Casa dei Bambini- from the Montessori Training Institute site:
Full description here: http://www.montitute.com/unit/the-first-montessori-school-and-the-worldwide-response/
Montessori, when criticized of her method being too structured and academically demanding of young children, laughed out saying, “I followed these children, studying them, studied them closely, and they taught me how to teach them.” Talking about the role of the teacher, she argued that the educator’s job is to serve the child, determining what each student needs to make the greatest progress. She believed that children follow their inner strong urges to select their activities and work. These urges are universally similar in all children and are the product of millions of years of evolution. Nature, itself encourages children to select the activities, which are appropriate for development at that stage. To her, a child who fails in school should not be blamed, any more than a doctor should blame a patient who does not get well fast enough. Just as it is the job of the physician to help people find the way to cure themselves, it is the educator’s job to facilitate the natural process of learning.
Montessori’s children showed tremendous progress into academics and each achievement was like a sudden explosion. The children were too young to be sent to public schools, yet they literally begged to be taught how to read and write. They learned to do so quickly and enthusiastically, using special manipulative materials. Montessori just kept on noticing the inclinations of the children and developed manipulatives accordingly. The other area, which fascinated the children, was numbers. To respond to their interest, the mathematically inclined doctor developed a series of concrete math learning materials. These materials are so comprehensive and yet concrete in nature that they still fascinate many mathematicians and educators to this day. It did not take those three, four and five years old long to start adding and subtracting four-digit numbers. They further progressed on to multiplication, division, skip counting, and increasingly advanced and abstract concepts.
Montessori discovered an unlimited potential in children to learn. They began to show interests in other areas as well. This compelled the already overworked doctor to spend night after night designing new materials to keep pace with the children in geometry, geography, history, and natural science. Montessori discovered that her children showed more interest in academic manipulatives rather than toys. She made this discovery shortly after her first school opened, when a group of well-intentioned women gave the children a collection of lovely and expensive toys. The children took profound interest in those new gifts for a few days, but they soon returned to their learning materials. She also found that children generally preferred work over play, at least during the school day.