Learn more about the person behind the world-class method of teaching.
Maria Montessori was born on the 31st of August 1870 in the town of Chiaravalle, Italy. Her father, Alessandro, was an accountant in the civil service, and her mother, Renilde Stoppani, was well educated and had a passion for reading.
The Montessori family moved to Rome in 1875, and the following year, Maria was enrolled in the local state school. Breaking conventional barriers from the beginning of her education, Maria initially had aspirations to become an engineer.
When Maria graduated secondary school, she became determined to enter medical school and become a doctor. Despite her parents’ encouragement to enter teaching, Maria wanted to study the male-dominated field of medicine. After initially being refused, with the endorsement of Pope Leo XIII, Maria was eventually given entry to the University of Rome in 1890, becoming one of the first women in medical school in Italy.
Despite facing many obstacles due to her gender, Maria qualified as a doctor in July 1896. Soon after her medical career began, Maria became involved in the Women’s Rights movement. She became known for her high levels of competency in treating patients and the respect she showed to patients from all social classes.
In 1897, Maria joined a research program at the psychiatric clinic of the University of Rome as a volunteer. This work initiated a deep interest in the needs of children with learning disabilities. In particular, the work of two early 19th century Frenchmen, Jean-Marc Itard, who had made his name working with the ‘wild boy of Aveyron’, and Edouard Séguin, his student. Maria was appointed as co-director of a new institution called the Orthophrenic School. In 1898, Maria gave birth to Mario, following her relationship with Giusseppe Montesano, her co-director at the school.
At the age of twenty-eight, Maria began advocating her controversial theory that the lack of support for mentally and developmentally disabled children was the cause of their delinquency. The notion of social reform became a strong theme throughout Maria’s life, whether it was for gender roles or advocacy for children.
In 1901, Maria began her own studies of educational philosophy and anthropology, lecturing and teaching students. From 1904-1908, she was a lecturer at the Pedagogic School of the University of Rome. This period saw the rapid development of Rome but the speculative nature of the market led to bankruptcies and ghetto districts. One such area was San Lorenzo, where the children were left to run amok at home as their parents worked. In an attempt to provide the children with activities during the day to fend of the destruction of property, Maria was offered the opportunity to introduce her materials and practice to ‘normal’ children. There, in 1907, she opened the first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House), bringing some of the educational materials she had developed at the Orthophrenic School.
Maria placed different activities and learning materials into the children’s environment but kept only those that engaged them. What she came to realize was that children who were placed in an environment where activities are designed to support their natural development had the power to educate themselves.
By 1909, Maria gave her first training course in her new approach to around 100 students. Her notes from this period provided the material for her first book published that same year in Italy, appearing in translation in the United States in 1912 as The Montessori Method and later translated into 20 languages.
A period of great expansion in the Montessori approach now followed. Montessori societies, training programs, and schools sprang to life all over the world. And a period of travel with public speaking and lecturing occupied Maria in the UK and throughout Europe but much of it in America.
Maria lived in Spain from 1917 and was joined by Mario and his wife, Helen Christy. Mario and Helen Christy raised their four (4) children, namely Mario Jr, Rolando, Marilena, and Renilde. In 1929, mother and son established the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to perpetuate her work.
The rise of fascism in Europe substantially impacted the progress of the Montessori movement. By 1933, the Nazis had closed all the Montessori schools in Germany, with Mussolini doing the same in Italy. Fleeing the Spanish civil war in 1936, Maria and Mario traveled to England, then to the Netherlands, where they stayed with the family of Ada Pierson—who would later become Mario’s second wife. A three-month lecture tour of India in 1939 turned to a seven-year stay when the outbreak of war had Mario interned, and Maria put under house arrest, detained as Italian citizens by the British government. In India, Maria began the development of her approach to support the 6-12 child through ‘Cosmic Education’. Her 70th birthday request to free Mario was granted, and together, they trained over a thousand Indian teachers.
In 1946, they returned to the Netherlands, and the following year, she addressed UNESCO on the theme ‘Education and Peace’. Maria was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in three consecutive years: 1949, 1950, and 1951. Her last public engagement was the 9th International Montessori Congress in London in 1951. Maria Montessori passed away at age 81 on the 6th of May 1952 in the Netherlands, bequeathing the legacy of her work to her son Mario.
- Maria Montessori was born on August 31 in Chiaravalle, Ancona province, Italy.
- She attended a boys’ school in Rome with a science/engineering emphasis.
- Against opposition from her father, she pursues her wish to become a doctor.
- She became the first woman to obtain a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Rome.
- She represented Italy at the International Women’s Congress in Berlin and addressed the rights of working women, including equal pay for equal work.
- She studied the writings of French doctors, Itard and Séguin, who worked with disabled children.
- Audited courses in pedagogy at the University of Rome; read all major works in educational philosophy over the past 200 years
- Attended women’s congress in London; received by Queen Victoria
- Lectureship in hygiene and anthropology at the teacher training college for women in Rome
- Worked at the psychiatric clinic in Rome
- Appointed director of the Orthophrenic School, a model school for training teachers of children with developmental disabilities. For two years, she experimented at the model school with materials to stimulate the senses. She succeeded in fostering the development of some of the children to such an extent that they achieve the same results on state exams as typically developing schoolchildren.
- She began the second degree—in education, experimental psychology, and anthropology—at the University of Rome.
- She visited elementary schools to do anthropological research.
- She lectured in anthropology and biology at the University of Rome’s school of education, incorporating her clinical observations of pupils in Rome’s elementary schools. These lectures became the basis of her book Pedagogical Anthropology (1910).
- First Children’s House (Casa dei Bambini) opened at 53 Via dei Marsi in the San Lorenzo district of Rome on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6.
- The Children’s House on Via Solari in Milan, run by Anna Maria Maccheroni, is opened.
- Gave the first training course in her method to about 100 students in Rome. There, she writes, in the space of a month, her first book, Il Metodo della Pedagogia Scientifica applicato all’educazione infantile nelle Case dei Bambini. In the years to follow, this book was translated into over 20 languages. The English edition is titled The Montessori Method.
- Two parallel teacher training courses are held in the Franciscan convent on Via Giusti in Rome, where there is a model Children’s House.
- Second book: L’Antropologia pedagogica (Pedagogical Anthropology)
- She resigned from her teaching post at the University of Rome and gave up her private medical practice to concentrate entirely on education.
- The Montessori method is already being put into practice in English and Argentinean schools and is beginning to be introduced into Italian and Swiss primary schools.
- Model schools were set up in Paris, New York, and Boston.
- The English version of Il Metodo appeared in the U.S. in an edition of 5,000 copies under the title of The Montessori Method. Within a few days, it had been sold out. It reached second place on the year’s list of nonfiction bestsellers.
- She ran the First International Training Course in her apartment in Rome, under the patronage of Queen Margherita. Students come from Italy and other European countries, Australia, South Africa, India, China, the Philippines, the United States, and Canada.
- Montessori Educational Association was founded in the United States. Its membership includes Alexander Graham Bell, his wife, Mabel Bell, S.S. McClure, and President Wilson’s daughter, Margaret Woodrow Wilson.
- She had her first trip to the United States.
- Second International Training Course in Rome
- Montessori’s third book, Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, is published in New York.
- She had a second trip to the United States, accompanied by her son, Mario.
- Addressed International Kindergarten Union and National Educational Association (NEA) and ran a training course, the Third International Course.
- At the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, a Montessori class works in a glass pavilion observed by visitors.
- Dr. Montessori’s NEA lectures are published in New York: My System of Education, The Organization of Intellectual Work in School, Education in Relation to the Imagination of the Little Child, and The Mother and the Child.
- She moved to Barcelona at the invitation of the city government. Barcelona remained her home until the coup in 1936 that brought General Franco to power.
- Fourth International Training Course in Barcelona
- Model Montessori school and a children’s chapel are set up in Barcelona as well as a teacher training institute, with the backing of the Catalan government.
- Her fourth book appeared, L’autoeducazione nelle Scuole Elementari (English title: The Advanced Montessori Method).
- She presented a training course in London using the format that would become standard: fifty hours of lectures, fifty hours of teaching using the materials, fifty hours of observation of Montessori classes.
- She lectured at the Amsterdam University, and for the first time, Maria Montessori outlined her ideas on secondary school education.
- She offered training courses in London and Milan.
- The founding of the New Education Fellowship (known today as the World Education Fellowship) of which Maria Montessori is an active member, engaging in a heated debate with the leading educational reformers of the time.
- Publication of I bambini viventi nella Chiesa in Naples (English edition The Child in the Church, London 1929), Maria Montessori’s first book on the Catholic liturgy from the child’s point of view.
- The First Children’s House in Vienna was set up by Lili Roubiczek.
- She offered training courses in London and the Netherlands.
- Montessori’s first visit to the Haus der Kinder in Vienna and the start of her collaboration and friendship with Lili Roubiczek (Peller), Lisl Herbatschek (Braun), and others
- Four-month training course in Amsterdam
- The meeting of Montessori with Benito Mussolini (who had come to power in 1922) results in official recognition and widespread establishment of Montessori schools by the Italian government.
- Training course in London
- Dr. Montessori’s son, Mario, took this course and received his Montessori Diploma.
- Visited Argentina
- Spoke on “Education and Peace” at the League of Nations in Geneva
- The book Das Kind in der Familie, based on lectures she gave in 1923 in Vienna, is published in German. (It was issued in English as The Child in the Family in 1936.)
- A Montessori teacher training center with a model Montessori school has been built in Rome; the collaboration between Maria Montessori and the architects
- First International Montessori Congress in Helsingør, Denmark
- In conjunction with her son, Mario, she founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), with headquarters in Berlin and moved to Amsterdam in 1935.
- International Training Course in Rome
- Lectured in Vienna during which she became acquainted with Anna Freud (founder of child psychoanalysis and daughter of Sigmund Freud)
- International Training Courses in Rome and England
- Lectured at Berlin University
- Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement, visited Montessori schools in Rome
- Second International Montessori Congress in Nice, France
- Montessori lectured about Peace and Education, published by the International Bureau of Education, Geneva
- Publications: La Vita in Cristo (Rome), Ideas Generales Sobre Mi Método (Madrid), The Mass Explained to Children (London)
- The Nazis systematically destroyed the Montessori movement in Germany, closing all Montessori schools.
- Third International Montessori Congress in Amsterdam
- Training courses in London, Dublin, and Barcelona
- Fourth International Montessori Congress in Rome
- After conflicts with the fascist system, all Montessori schools in Italy “cease to exist … in a single day” (Rita Kramer).
- Psico-Aritmética and Psico-Geometría published in Barcelona
- Fifth International Montessori Congress in Oxford, England
- Development of further principles of Montessori education for Elementary (Cosmic Education) and secondary schools
- General Franco’s coup; Maria Montessori flees Barcelona for England and then Amsterdam.
- The Netherlands becomes her home.
- A training center with a model school was set up in Laren, near Amsterdam (materials on Cosmic Education are used for the first time), and AMI moves its headquarters there. At this time, there are over 200 Montessori schools in the Netherlands.
- Publications: The Secret of Childhood (London), Les Etapes de L’Education (Bruges, Belgium)
- Sixth International Montessori Congress in Copenhagen with the theme “Educate for Peace.” Montessori delivered several lectures later collected in Education and Peace (first published in Italy as Educazione e Pace, 1949).
- Seventh International Montessori Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland
- Speech at the Sorbonne in Paris in which she makes one of her numerous appeals for peace
- God En het Kind (“God and the Child”) and The ‘Erdkinder’ and the Functions of the University: The Reform of Education During and After Adolescence was published in the Netherlands.
- Departed for India with Mario to run what was to be a three-month training course at the invitation of the Theosophical Society, which has been using the Montessori method to successfully combat illiteracy
- Italy enters World War II on the side of the Germans. In June, Mario Montessori interned by the British colonial government in India as an enemy alien, and Maria Montessori was confined to the compound of the Theosophical Society. Mario is released in August out of the Viceroy’s respect for Maria Montessori and to honor her 70th birthday. Still, the Montessoris are not allowed to leave the country until the war is over.
- Training courses in Madras, Kodaikanal, Karachi, and Ahmedabad in India, and in Ceylon
- Further developed the Cosmic Education Plan for the Elementary years with Mario’s collaboration
- The Child (1941) and Reconstruction in Education (1942) published in India
- The war is over.
- Maria and Mario Montessori returned to Europe.
- Training course in London
- Visited Scotland
-Education for a New World was published in India
- Maria and Mario Montessori established a Montessori Centre in London.
- Trip to Italy: Revival of the Montessori Society
- Montessori establishments started to reopen.
- Assistants to Infancy work was initiated in Rome
- Returned to India to give a training course in Adyar
- Training courses in Ahmedabad, Adyar, and Poona; lectures in Bombay
- Trip to Gwalior, India
- Supervised the opening of a model school up to age twelve
- Visited the Montessori training center with the model school in Colombo (Ceylon)
- De l’enfant á l’adolescent (From Childhood to Adolescence) was published in French. This book sets out Maria Montessori’s concepts for elementary and adolescent education.
- The Discovery of the Child, To Educate the Human Potential, What You Should Know About Your Child, and Child Training were published in Madras, India.
- The first nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize (again in 1950 and 1951)
- One-month training course in Pakistan assisted by Mario and Albert Joosten
- Definitive return to Europe
- Eighth International Montessori Congress in San Remo, Italy
- The Absorbent Mind was published in India.
- Publication of her last major work: Formazione dell’uomo (in English, The Formation of Man, Adyar 1955)
- Lecture tour of Norway and Sweden
- Spoke at the General Conference of UNESCO in Florence
- International Conference in Amsterdam in honor of Maria Montessori’s 80th birthday
- Ninth International Montessori Congress in London
- The last training course run by Maria Montessori was held in Innsbruck, Austria.
- Maria Montessori died on May 6 in Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands. She is buried at the local Catholic cemetery.
The first Montessori environment was opened on the 6th of January 1907 in San Lorenzo, Rome, Italy, by Dr. Maria Montessori. Through Dr. Montessori’s observations and work with these children, she discovered their astonishing, almost effortless, ability to learn. Children taught themselves! This simple but profound truth formed the cornerstone of her life-long pursuit of educational reform.
The following is a summary of a talk by Dr. Maria Montessori to her students on the 6th of January 1942, celebrating the anniversary of the inauguration day of the first House of Children:
Today is the anniversary of the opening of the first House of Children. When I tell you briefly how it started, the few words of its history will seem like a fairy-tale, but their message may also prove useful.
Many times people ask with doubt in their minds whether the method is suitable for poor children and whether it is at all adaptable to them.
In order that you may be able to answer such questions, I should like you to have a small idea of how our work started, of the indirect way in which it has arisen.
It came about in a strange way, I have pondered much about it and tried to understand the reason for it. I don’t know if it is an indication of destiny or if it was established by fate itself. All that I know is that it has something to do with the House itself. It may seem curious that I express it in this way, but I do so to render the ensuing story clear.
Many years ago, Rome was a capital of a state in very rapid development, which manifested itself in a mania for building. Every small available space was utilized to build houses, every little open square. One of the many was delimited on one side by the old Roman walls, which had witnessed many battles, and on the other by the modern cemetery. This area was the last place to be filled. No doubt because of the superstition that it was not lucky to live near the dead for fear of ghosts and also for hygienic reasons.
But probably because of the beautiful and historical situation, one building society decided to stake its money into building there. It was a tremendous scheme, five houses on the scale of palaces, 5 or 6 stories high. But the idea had been too vast so the society went bankrupt before the building was completed, and the scheme failed. The work was interrupted and left to stand. There were only the walls with open holes for doors and windows, there was no plumbing, and the erections stood as a sort of skeleton.
For many years this enormous skeleton remained abandoned and neglected. It became a shelter for homeless beggars, a hiding place for evildoers who wished to avoid recognition and who, if discovered, could easily escape in this labyrinth. Criminals of all sorts, thieves, and murderers, took refuge in them. People lived there in the same conditions as the cavemen of old did in their caves.
All those who were homeless, and those who wished to hide, found shelter within those walls. Even the police did not go near them, or dared to, as they did not know their way within these grim walls of crime and horror.
Slowly, the number grew until thousands of people crowded in these abandoned buildings. People were found dead, murdered, or succumbed to diseases; the place became a breeding place of infection for the whole land; a center of crime and of the lowest prostitution.
The “Quartiere di San Lorenzo” became known as the shame of Italy. People were too afraid to do anything about it; no one knew what happened within those dark walls. There were no small shops for provisions anywhere near. No itinerant vendor would go there to sell. Even the lowest laborer or the poorest fisherman would seem as princes in comparison, for however poor, they would have at least some honest livelihood whereas those who lived inside that gloom had no work, no means to pay, their only livelihood was derived from crime.
The problem of clearing this pit of inhumanity demanded a solution. Another building society of very wealthy bankers considered the problem and decided that as the walls already stood, only a small expenditure would be necessary to make fruitful whatever capital was invested. The district, due to its ill–repute, would of course never become a fashionable quarter. Therefore, only small renovations were necessary to render it habitable for these people already so unfortunate. Regarding it thus as a business venture, they started with one building which they discovered would house a thousand people. They used some whitewash, put in some doors and windows, and laid in a few water pipes and drains.
It was estimated that in this area lived at least 10,000 people. Therefore, how could they discriminate which among them would be the best? They chose the married ones who by reason of their relationship with one another would be the most human. As it happened, there were only very few children. It seems perhaps logical that under such conditions, although there were thousands of men and women, there should be only fifty children.
But these children, wild and uncivilized as they were, presented a serious problem of damage to the houses. Left alone while the parents went to work, they were free to carry out any wild fancy. So the director of the concern decided that the only obvious thing to keep them out of mischief was to collect all the children and confine them.
One room was set aside for this purpose, resembling in every way a children’s prison. It was hoped that a person would be found with enough social courage to tackle the problem.
I, in my capacity of medical officer of hygiene, was approached to take an interest in the work. Having considered the situation, I demanded that at least the commonest aids in hygiene, food, and sanitation be made available.
At the time, it had become fashionable among society ladies to interest themselves in social uplift. They were approached to do something to collect funds because we were confronted with the strange problem that while the bankers had agreed to invest money to improve the housing situation, they were not, at all, interested in education. One could not expect any returns from money put into anything with an educational purpose.
Although society had embraced the idea of improving the condition of these unfortunate people, the children had been forgotten. There were no toys, no school, no teacher. There was nothing for them. I was able to find one woman of 40 years, whose help I asked and who I put in charge.
On the 6th of January 1907, this room was inaugurated to collect the 50 children. The room had already been in use for little time, but it was inaugurated on that day. Throughout Italy, the 6th of January is looked upon as “the” day of feast for the children. It was on this day that the Three Kings arrived before the Child Christ and offered him their gifts. It is celebrated as the Feast of Epiphany.
It was striking at the time this interest of society imbued with the idea that their giving hygienic houses to the homeless would be the means of purifying the evil core in their midst, consisting of a group of ten-thousand criminals and pitiful humanity. I also was imbued with this sentiment.
But while everyone had had the idea that by giving houses and sanitation, the people would be purified, no one had taken into consideration the children. No one had thought to bring toys or food for them. When the children, ranging between the ages of 2 to 6 entered, they were dressed all alike in some thick, heavy, blue drill. They were frightened, and being hindered by the stiff material, could move neither arms nor legs freely. Apart from their own community, they had never seen any people. To get them to move together, they were made to hold hands. The first unwilling child was pulled, thus, dragging along the whole line of the rest. All of them were crying miserably. The sympathy of the society ladies was aroused, and they expressed the hope that in a few months they would improve.
I had been asked to make a speech for the occasion. Earlier that day, remembering that it was the feast of the Epiphany, I had read the lesson in my mass book. When I made my speech, I read it as an omen for the work to follow.
“Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about, and see; all these are gathered together, they have come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see and abound and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha; all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.”
I don’t know what came over me but I had a vision and inspired by it, I was enflamed and said that this work we were undertaking would prove to be very important and that someday people would come from all parts to see it.
In reporting this new whim of society, the press also mentioned that Dr. Montessori had made a beautiful speech, but what an exaggeration in what she had said!
It was from then that the real work began.
Remember that all these children were completely illiterate. Their parents were also illiterate and they were born and grown in the environment, I have described.
What happened more than thirty years ago now will always remain a mystery to me. I have tried since then to understand what took place in those children. Certainly, there was nothing of what is to be found now in any House of Children. There were only rough large tables.
I brought them some of the materials which had been used for our work in experimental psychology, the items which we use today as sensorial material, and materials for the exercises of practical life. I merely wanted to study the children’s reactions. I asked the woman in charge not to interfere with them in any way as otherwise, I would not be able to observe them, Someone brought them paper and colored pencils but in itself, this was not the explanation of the further events. There was no one who loved them, I myself only visited them once a week, and during the day the children had no communication with their parents.
The children were quiet, they had no interference either from the teacher or from the parents, but their environment contrasted vividly from that which they had been used to; compared to that of their previous life; it seemed fantastically beautiful. The walls were white, there was a green plot of grass outside, though no one had yet thought to plant flowers in it, but most beautiful of all was the fact that they had interesting occupations in which no one, no one at all, interfered. They were left alone and little by little the children began to work with concentration and the transformation they underwent, was noticeable. From timid and wild as they were before, the children became sociable and communicative. They showed a different relationship with each other, of which I have written in my books. Their personalities grew and, strange though it may seem, they showed extraordinary understanding, activity, vivacity, and confidence. They were happy and joyous.
This fact was noticed after a while by the mothers who came to tell us about it. As the children had had no one to teach them or interfere with their actions, they acted spontaneously, their manners were natural.
But the most outstanding thing about these strange children of the St. Lawrence Quarter was their obvious gratitude. I was as much surprised by this as everyone else. When I entered the room all the children sprang to greet me and cried their welcome. Nobody had taught them any manner of good behavior. And the strangest thing of all was that although nobody had cared for them physically, they flourished in health as if they had been secretly fed on some nourishing food, And so they had, but in their spirit. These children began to notice things in their homes, a spot of dirt on their mother’s dress, untidiness in the room. They told their mothers not to hang the washing in the windows but to put flowers there instead. Their influence spread into the homes, so that after a while also these became transformed.
Six months after the inauguration of the House of Children, some of the mothers came to me and pleaded that as I had already done so much for their children, and they themselves could do nothing about it because they were illiterate, would I not teach their children to read and write?
At first, I did not want to, being as prejudiced as everyone else that the Children were far too young for it. But I gave them the alphabet in the way I have told you. As then it was something new for me also, I analyzed the words for them and showed that each sound of the words had a symbol by which it could be materialized. It was then that the explosion into writing occurred.
The news spread and the whole world became interested in this phenomenal activity of writing of these children who were so young and whom nobody had taught. The people realized that they were confronted by a phenomenon that could not be explained for besides writing, these children worked all the time without being forced by anyone to do so. This was a great revelation but it was not the only contribution of the children. It was also they, who created the lesson of silence. They seemed to be a new type of children. Their fame spread and in consequence, all kinds of people visited the House of Children, including State ministers and their wives, with whom the children behaved graciously and beautifully, without anyone urging then, that even the newspapers in Italy and abroad became excited. So the news spread, until finally also the Queen became interested. She came to that quarter so ill-famed that it was considered hell’s doors, to see for herself the children about whom she had heard wonders.
What was the wonder due to? No one could state it clearly. But it conquered me forever because it penetrated my heart as a new light. One day I looked at them with eyes that saw them differently and I asked myself: “Who are you, are you the same children you were before?” And I said within myself: “Perhaps you are those children of whom it was said that they would come to save humanity. If so, I shall follow you.” Since then, I am she who tries to grasp their message and to follow them.
And in order to follow them, I changed my whole life. I was nearly 40. I had in front of me a doctors’ career and a professorship at the University. But I left all because I felt compelled to follow them and to find others who could follow them, for I saw that in them lay the secret of the soul.
You must realize that what happened was something so great and so stirring that its importance could never be sufficiently recognized. That it will never be sufficiently studied, is certain, for it is the secret of life itself. We cannot fully know its causes. It is not possible that it came because of my method, for at the time my method did not yet exist. This is the clearest proof that it was a revelation that emanated from the children themselves.
My educational method has grown from these as well as from many other revelations, given by the children, You know from what I have told you, that all the details included in the method, have come from the efforts to follow the child. The new path has been shown to us. No one knows exactly how it arose, it just came into being and showed us the new way.
It has nothing to do with any educational method of the past, nor with any educational method of the future. It stands alone as the contribution of the child himself. Perhaps it is the first of its kind, which has been built by him step by step.
It cannot have come from an adult person; the thought, the very principle that the adult should stand aside to make room for the child, could never have come from the adult.
Anyone who wants to follow my method must understand that he should not honor me but follow the child as his leader.”
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