Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, developed her innovative ideas on teaching young children in the early part of the 20th century. This philosophy emphasizes the individual child's initiative and independence, allowing him or her to progress through an orderly series of structured learning activities at his own pace. Special materials, which emphasize the use of all the senses in learning, are employed.
Maria Montessori's philosophy derives from the notion of the child as an individual who is on a journey of self-discovery, creating the adult she is to become. An integral part of the child's journey is the desire to learn about her environment. The child has what Montessori termed "an absorbent mind." The child is capable of effortlessly acquiring knowledge of her surroundings. The child's acquisition of language is a good example: she is not taught her native tongue through the conscious effort of an adult. Given this "absorbent mind," it is easy to see why a stimulating environment can have such an impact on the child. The child is naturally interested in her environment and has an intrinsic desire not only to learn about it but also to achieve competence in it.
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