Maria Montessori (1870-1952) would have undoubtedly been the queen of the sound bite had she been born 100 years later. A search for Maria Montessori quotes renders hundreds of results. Who was Maria Montessori and what are some of her best quotes? Keep reading to learn more about this brilliant, compassionate, pioneering feminist, while discovering some of her best quotes.

Maria Montessori: The Woman

Maria Montessori's eponymous model of educating young children is as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago. Taking her first class in 1906 in Rome, Dr. Montessori could have scarcely imagined her method's impact on education.

The sole female in the University of Rome's medical school, class of 1896, Maria Montessori was a pediatrician and psychiatrist by training. However, what Dr. Montessori was seeing in her research, visiting asylums around Rome, led her to her life's work. Observing children with mental disabilities, Dr. Montessori saw their potential. Between giving birth to a son, returning to school, giving lectures, translating the works of two of her predecessors in special education (Itard and Séguin) by hand from French to Italian, and being co-director of a teacher training center for training teachers to work with children with learning differences, Maria Montessori developed her method for educating young children.

An engraving /etcing of Maris Montessori on an Italian bank note. She is etched in deep red and ecru. Yellow, olive and light blue dots and diamonds are visible to her left. The word TALIA is visible in the lower left frame. The I was apparently cropped out of the photo. oops.
Dr. Montessori could have scarcely imagined her method's impact on education.

©Janusz Pienkowski/Shutterstock.com

Montessori spent the majority of her life as a teacher and mentor, her allegiance to the child never wavering. In the intervening years, her methods continue to stand the test of time. Today there are 20,000 Montessori around the globe, 5,000 of which are in the U.S.

Best Maria Montessori Quotes: Her Words

If you are familiar with the five principles of Montessori education, you will see them shining through in her words. Briefly, the five principles are:

  • Respect for the child
  • Acceptance of the child as a sentient being with an absorbent mind
  • Awareness of sensitive periods when the child's mind is ready to acquire new skills
  • Access to a prepared environment in which the tools of learning are organized and waiting
  • The child is a capable teacher, able to educate him/her/themself, a/k/a auto-education

Respect For The Child

Maria Montessori's quote, “No social problem is as universal as the oppression of the child,” reflects the first principle. To put this in perspective, in late 19th century Italy, 64% of children worked. Most worked in factories, with grueling hours and for lower pay than their adult co-workers. In the U.S. the numbers were a little better, with only 20% of school-aged children in the workforce. Thanks to progressive thinkers, like Maria Montessori, child labor began seeing reforms. The number of hours children worked and the conditions in which they worked, were governed by these reforms.

Frame Left: A brown-skinned man with very close cropped hair and a short beard wearing a button front light blue oxford cloth shirt and black pants is lying on the floor which is wooden one arm on a white carpet that also has a round wooden train track, is visible, fist bumping A young brown skin boy who is in frame right. The boy is wearing a white short sleeved T-shirt and light blue denim jeans. His hair is unruly curls. In his left hand he is holding a rectangular red wooden block. Both he and the man are smiling as if happy. The background consists of white shelves on which there is a teddy bear and a little doll there is also a wooden table and chair and some white curtains
Respect for the child is a tenet of Montessori education.

©fizkes/Shutterstock.com

The Absorbent Mind

Another of the best Maria Montessori quotes mirrors her second educational principle of understanding that children have absorbent minds: “The absorbent mind receives all, does not judge, does not refuse, does not react. It absorbs.” Anyone who has spent even a short amount of time around a child /children can attest to this principle. They absorb facts and figures and feelings without prejudice or bias. Their innocence allows them to see more clearly and lucidly than the most intelligent adults.

A gray outline of a human head in silhouette facing left frame. Within the outline is a natural sponge, which is light yellow and textured with many holes. The background is isolate white
Children absorb facts and figures and feelings without prejudice or bias.

©jojof/Shutterstock.com

Sensitive Periods

About the sensitive periods in a child's development when neurological pathways are opening to new skills, Maria Montessori says, “It comes for but a moment, but its benefits last a lifetime.” Observing children with intention Montessori was able to determine when sensitive periods in a child's intellectual development occur and the skills that coincide with each. She went on to say that when tapping into these sensitive periods at the right time, the child will embrace the task without viewing it as work.

Center bottom frame: A brown-skinned boy with a medium Afro (hairstyle),  dressed in a yellow turtleneck long-sleeved shirt, with his head tilted toward lift frame, has his right hand at his chin with his thumb and index finger extended, his eyes looking up, as if he is thinking . The background is a chalkboard on which question marks of various sizes have been drawn with white chalk, and a lightbulb which is outlined in white but has yellow chalk making it appear to be lighted.
Sensitive periods occur when neurological pathways are open to new skills.

©MillaF/Shutterstock.com

Access to a Prepared Environment

“Just as we have to prepare a special environment for sport, like a tennis court if we are to play tennis, the child must be given the means for the kind of exercise which is necessary for his life.” The ideal environment for the child is one in which the furnishings and tools of learning are proportioned to the child. Tables and chairs are sized to accommodate smaller bodies in the Montessori classroom. Organization is also key. The prepared environment must have order. One of the roles of the Montessori teacher is preparing the classroom each afternoon so that students may go straight to their work.

Full frame of a Montessori classroom toward the front of the frame is a round wooden table at which three young children are seated. A young brown-skinned girl with black curly hair wearing a shirt-sleeved pink t-shirt toward the left part of the frame seated at the table which is child-sized, playing with a wooden block with graduated holes the smallest being toward the front of the frame getting increasingly larger as you go towards centerpoint. A light-skinned male child With light brown hair wearing a seafoam green short-sleeved T-shirt is facing the camera and playing with three pink blocks that he has stacked. Frame right is the back of a light-skinned boy whose left arm is extended across the table reaching for a pink block he is wearing a shirt-sleeved salmon colored T-shirt. In the back of the frame arethree children and an adult man seated at a rectangular child sized table. The adult male is hunched down leaning against the table using his elbows for support, next to him is a light skin boy with longish blonde hair wearing a button front shirt that is plaid mostly red white and blue. He is looking down at some thing the teacher is doing but is obscured by the head of the child wearing the green shirt. Across the table from the teacher and the blonde haired boy are two little girls whose backs are facing the camera the girl on the left is wearing a sundress that is primarily magenta with orange accents the girl on the right is wearing a navy and white striped dress. The background consists Of an L-shaped sofa with blue and pink pillows, Upper right frame and then the upper left frame an adult size desk with a Charles Eames chair. The chair is white.
Montessori classrooms have tables and chairs that are sized to accommodate smaller bodies.

©Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

The Child is a Capable Teacher

Maria Montessori, speaking about children being quite capable of educating themselves says, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” This statement is accepted and ignored, in equal measure. Many adults feel it's their job to do things for their children in compassionate attempts to make this child's life easier or less stressful. In fact, the opposite is true. A child's confidence derives from being able to successfully complete tasks by themselves. Maria Montessori also said, “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.'” 

Five children are visible in the frame working at three desks that have been pushed together two of the desks are blonde wood, the one closed to front of frame  is light brown.  The child in frame lift is light-skinned with dark hair cut above his ear. He is standing up and  is wearing a long sleeve white T-shirt over which he is wearing a short sleeve striped T-shirt with very narrow navy stripes. His hands are at the top of the tower that consists of from bottom arete block green black red block to green blocks to Redbox and then his hand is obscuring the rest of tower, though the top of the tower is blue.  To his left is a student who is seated at the light brown desk. They are primarily obscured by the boy in frame left so you can see that they to have dark hair. Standing next to the seated child is a light-skinned young girl wearing a long sleeve light pink T-shirt. Her hair is in braids on either side of her face and she has bangs. Her focus is on another set of wooden blocks. Next to her is a taller light brown-skinned  Girl who is a few inches taller and his hair is dark and quite curly pulled up in dog-ears on either side of her head she is wearing a short sleeved mustard/gold T-shirt. Her left hand is placing a red block on a stack of blocks that are primarily natural colored wood although there is a yellow block into green blocks in the stack. To her left is a little boy wearing a gray short-sleeved shirt with neon yellow stripes of various widths. He is focused on a tower that consists of from bottom to red blocks a green block three natural wood blocks and a red block on top. In his left hand he is holding a blue block. On the desks around them are blocks of wood in red, green, purple, and blue. A bright window is visible in the background on the right left back ground consists of a green bulletin board on which a white piece of paper With a colorful design is visible.
“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.'” 

©JR-50/Shutterstock.com

Best Maria Montessori Quotes: Miscellaneous Musings

Movement

Beyond the quotes that reflect the five principles of Montessori education, Maria Montessori spoke many profound words regarding children and their place in the world. One of her more prescient quotes, “The task of the educator lies in seeing that the child does not confound good with immobility and evil with activity,” evokes the environment of many traditional classrooms in which good students sit still, keeping their hands to themselves, lest they provoke the ire of the teacher.

Full frame a large room with  a light wooden floor and slate gray walls that has bright windows far back left frame and center back frame. 10 children are visible in the room jumping up off the floor. The one closest to the frame is wearing black leggings and a short sleeve red T-shirt. Their face/head is not visible in the frame. Behind them from left to right is a little girl wearing blue jeans and red shoes. She is partially obscured by the girl to her left. Next to her moving right in the frame is a little girl wearing navy blue jeggings and a sleeveless white shirt. She has blue tennis shoes. To her left, right in the frame is a bigger child wearing red shoes, Navy blue sweatpants a coral colored T-shirt under a long sleeve button front plaid shirt that is blue and white to her left frame right is a little boy who is wearing black Converse style tennis shoes gray blue jeans a short sleeve white T-shirt with a red and white chick shirt tied around his waist. Next to him is a little girl wearing white tennis shoes black jeans and a short-sleeved shirt that is yellow on the front and white on the back. The yellow front has some writing on it but it’s not discernible. Behind her is a girl wearing black pants with white dots wedge shoes that kind of appear to look like bowling shoes and a white T-shirt. To her right frame left is a little girl wearing pink shoes light green Capri pants and a short sleeve pink T-shirt. Next to her is a boy wearing white shoes blue jeans that are torn in both knees a white shirt under a black and red chip but in front shirt. There is a child who is almost totally obscured by another child. In the far back corner is a little girl wearing white shoes very light colored pants in a short sleeve white T-shirt. All of the children are light to olive skinned.
Maria Montessori understood that children need to move.

©BAZA Production/Shutterstock.com

Is it any wonder, then, that children imagine their natural impulses for movement and mischief to be bad or evil? Thinking of our own school experiences, it is easy to conjure that specific mood, no doubt, especially for those of us who were rambunctious children. This is why Montessori classrooms are characteristically buzzing with activity.

Place in the World

“It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe.” Though love is a huge factor in teacher/student relationships, love alone is not adequate to nurture the child's intellect. Montessori felt that to be exemplary teachers it was important for individuals to examine themselves in relation to the vast unknown.

An illustration left frame: A light-skinned human figure is seen wearing a white shirt with their right arm outstretched and in their upturned palm is a spherical object,(center frame)  like the planet earth, with many lights bouncing off of it. At the so here’s bottom center near the hand that is holding it is a bright orange yellow light. The illustration is to show holding the universe within the palm of one’s hand.
Montessori teachers are tasked with reflecting and understanding their place in the Universe.

©Miha Creative/Shutterstock.com

The Future

The notion that children are the future isn't original to Maria Montessori, who nonetheless stated, “Within the child lies the fate of the future.” She also understood that a child's future depends on a solid educational model that doesn't destroy a child's inner spark: “Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”  Montessori's educational model provides an environment that stimulates a child's natural curiosity and innate desire for learning.

The background of this frame is a bright partly cloudy sky, against which I left arm in the left frame and a right arm in the right frame  in shadow, are visible holding the word future in all uppercase letters that has been cut out of paper or card stock. All of the letters are connected and are about 2 inches tall.
Though true, the notion that children are the future isn't original to Maria Montessori.

©2jenn/Shutterstock.com

“If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future.”  Maria Montessori understood that it was absolutely crucial for children to develop critical thinking skills if they were to better humankind. The Montessori is designed to aid children in the development of independent thought and the ability to analyze their thinking, critically.

Love

I will leave you with one final Maria Montessori quote that sums up her philosophy regarding children: “Children become like the things they love.” 

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