At the beginning of the 20th century, Italy’s first female physician, Maria Montessori, sought to turn education on its head. Using methods developed through her work with developmentally disabled children, Montessori created a ‘child-centered’ approach that emphasizes rich environments, freedom, and respect for the student’s point of view.
According the North American Montessori Teachers Association, the method is practiced in about 20,000 schools around the world, for children up to eighteen years of age.
The method is rooted in independence and giving children a bit more freedom than they would have in more traditional schools. According to the the American Montessori Society, this includes things like mixed age classrooms, student choice of activities (within a set range of options), uninterrupted blocks of work time and a “discovery” model, where students learn from working with things directly, as opposed to simply being instructed.
This doodle shares a special place in Google’s heart, as the company’s co-founders credit their success, at least in part, to the Montessori Method.