The Queen of My Self

…Continued from Monday, September 18th…


Although her methods were criticized for being too detached, rigorous, and even harsh for children, they did seem to facilitate a more genuine, natural experience. She was often heard saying, “I studied my children, and they taught me how to teach them.” This may seem common for us to do today, but Montessori was the first to view education in this manner.

Montessori pioneered other modern educational practices including a system of math learning materials for very young children that allowed four and five year olds to explore their interests where heretofore they had been considered to be too young. “To deny them (the children) the right to learn because we, as adults think that they shouldn’t is illogical and typical of the way schools have been run,” she said at the time.

She was also the first in education to have child-sized tables and chairs made for the students. And she created the Game of Silence, somewhat like meditation, where each child was able to start the day with a sense of peace and focus. She believed that the learning environment was just as important as the learning itself.

Her methods completely contradicted the educational theories and practice popular during her day when it was not common to treat children with such a high level of respect. Back then society felt that children should be seen and not heard. But she saw her children as they really were and heard their cries for true education. One day one of her teachers was late and the students actually crawled through the window and got right to work. According to her, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher. is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’”

Word of the success of her methods spread and won her international recognition as an educational reformer, Dr. Montessori devoted all of her time and energy for the next 40 years to traveling all over the world, lecturing, writing and establishing training programs. She developed schools throughout Europe and North America and then spent nearly two decades in living in India and Sri Lanka where she trained thousands of teachers the Montessori curriculum and methodology. In her later years, Educate for Peace became a guiding principle, which underpinned her work.

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

Queen Maria Montessori died in the Netherlands in 1952, after a lifetime devoted to the study of child development. Her early work centered on women’s rights and social reform and evolved to encompass a totally innovative approach to education. Hers truly was a vision, proven in practice where no child was left behind.

If an educational act is to be efficacious, it will be only that one which tends to help toward the complete unfolding of life. To be thus helpful it is necessary rigorously to avoid the arrest of spontaneous movements and the imposition of arbitrary tasks.


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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to

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