Who Was Maria Montessori?

Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian physician and anthropologist who devoted her life to understanding how children develop socially, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. By carefully observing children all over the world, she discovered universal patterns of development which are found in all children regardless of their culture or the era in which they live.

Dr. Montessori was one of the first women to be granted a diploma as a physician in Italy. Following her interest in human development, she assisted at a clinic for children with mental illnesses. She later directed the Orthophrenic School in Rome for children with physical, mental and emotional challenges. During this time Dr. Montessori lectured throughout Europe concerning the needs of children and their value to the future of our societies. She stressed the need to change our attitudes about children and their treatment.

In 1907, Dr. Montessori was given the responsibility of caring for a group of children in the Rome’s San Lorenzo slum district. She began to see the importance of a positive, nurturing environment that changes with the developmental needs of the child. As she observed the children and their response to the environment, she saw them demonstrate capabilities and interests that exceeded her expectations. The set of materials used in the "Montessori" environment were designed over a period of many years by Dr. Maria Montessori and her associates, creating a concrete, physical representation of the concepts and skills that children are naturally motivated to learn in their normal course of development.

Dr. Montessori conducted her first international training course in Italy in 1913, and her first American training course in California in 1915. As she carried her vision around the world, she felt that a time had come to ensure the quality and integrity of what was being handed down in her training courses. For that reason, she founded the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in 1929. Today AMI continues to support quality teacher training worldwide.

Maria Montessori was a visionary, not easily daunted by the many challenges she faced during her career. She traveled extensively, lecturing and teaching throughout Europe, India and in the United States. She was recognized for her efforts by educators, psychologists and political leaders of the day. Her associates included such people as Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander Graham Bell and Jean Piaget.
Dr. Montessori was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and 1951 and continued working, teaching and writing up to the time of her death. Over the past one hundred years children throughout the world have benefited from this educational approach that supports, nurtures, and protects natural development. Maria Montessori’s legacy lives on in the children whose lives are touched by her discoveries about life.

In her own words:
"My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding on that certification... but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual." - Introduction, From Childhood to Adolescence, Clio

“… The children themselves found a sentence that expressed this inner need. “Help me to do it by myself!” How eloquent is this paradoxical request! …It is in this that our conception differs both from that of the world in which the adult does everything for the child and from that of a passive environment in which the adult abandons the child to himself” - The Secret of Childhood, p. 213

“I have served the spirits of those children, and they have fulfilled their development, and I kept them company in their experiences” - Absorbent Mind p. 284

Maria Montessori and her son, Mario, visiting children in a classroom.

Why Chose AMI?

The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was founded by Maria Montessori in 1929 to protect the integrity of her work. Today, AMI continues to uphold these standards by offering high-quality, authentic and rigorous teacher training through its affiliated training centers.

It’s important to note that Montessori is not a trademarked term. This means that there are many varieties of Montessori teacher training available, from 10-week courses and online certificates, to full graduate-level, AMI-recognized courses like those offered by Montessori Northwest. High-quality AMI Montessori training can open the door to a career as a teacher at private and public Montessori schools around the world, or as a school administrator.

AMI courses are conducted by AMI trainers, master teachers who have completed the Training of Trainers program and have a profound understanding of Montessori theory and practice. Graduates of AMI training courses must demonstrate understanding of educational theory, child development, observation techniques, use and presentation of the Montessori materials, and ability to create appropriate activities for children. The practice teaching component solidifies this learning through hands-on work in Montessori classrooms.

  • AMI Montessori teachers are in high demand. AMI Montessori diploma-holders are sought after by many types of Montessori schools, public or private, AMI or AMS or non-affiliated. School administrators value the consistently high quality of AMI-trained teachers. While there are other good training programs, AMI training guarantees that teacher candidates have a deep understanding of the Montessori philosophy and principles of child development, as well as a thorough grasp of lesson delivery, not just in theory, but also in applied practice. This consistent, high-quality training means that many schools are eager to meet our graduates: an AMI diploma is a great way to get interviews at the best Montessori schools in the world!

  • Montessori Northwest’s AMI teacher training program prepares you for success in your classroom. Because of our AMI approach and our focus on practical, hands-on work with the materials, our students are well-prepared for the challenges of an actual classroom. So not only will you have a good chance of getting hired, you’ll also have the foundation for being successful in your teaching career.

  • A Montessori diploma often leads to better pay in a career you are passionate about. Many preschool teachers who take the AMI Montessori teacher training report a significant increase in pay, as a Montessori teaching certificate often is required for a promotion to head teacher in a Montessori classroom. While many assistant teachers at preschools are hourly employees with limited benefits, head teachers more often are able to become salaried professionals, with associated benefits, such as health care and retirement benefits.

  • An AMI diploma is your passport to the world. The Association Montessori Internationale diploma is used in over 100 countries, not just in the US. Your AMI Montessori teaching certificate gives you the opportunity to teach at AMI Montessori schools around the world, as those schools recognize the AMI training as a mark of teacher training excellence, no matter in which country you trained.