Dr. Maria Montessori History
If any of you are wondering if my working with individuals with intellectual disabilities could possibly translate to working with individuals with "normal" or "above normal" intelligence, please read the following: After I received a patent for a children’s learning toy back in 2001, I tried to make contact with many and various toy companies and discovered that all toy companies deliberately hire “in-house” inventors that are paid regular salaries for coming up with newly invented marketable toys, and the companies own the patents, thereby bypassing any patent holder fees for the individual inventors.
With this in mind, I made contact with The Cleveland Foundation and expressed an interest in trying to make contact in any way I could with toy companies and they directed me to a special branch of the Cleveland Foundation called the Civic Innovation Lab. I applied for consideration by their team (application attached in full) and was accepted, after three intense and lengthy interview sessions.
Over the next several months I and two others from the Lab discussed how we could possibly go about marketing the toy, or getting toy companies to look at the toy, or get civic and business leaders and/or philanthropists involved in education to look at the toy, etc. After many failed attempts at this, our discussion centered on my being able to see what other types of similar toys had been marketed and where they had been successfully marketed. I made the observation that my toy seemed to be quite typical of the types of toys made for and used by Montessori schools.
I was asked by the Lab personnel to then investigate the Montessori school systems and find out how to best describe my toy so that it might be eligible for consideration by toy companies.
I went to the Library and got out several books on Dr. Maria Montessori and began to read. The following is what I discovered:
Dr. Maria Montessori was the first female in Italy ever awarded an MD degree. She was pretty much hounded (hazed, continuously) by the Medical establishment and her male peers for ever wanting to attain, or for pursuing, a degree in Medicine. Undaunted she graduated at the top of her class in Medical school. However, after she had graduated with her degree, no hospital of clinic would ever employ her as she had broken a cardinal and sacred code. Therefore her first and only patients that she was ever granted were a barn (with a dirt floor) full of handicapped individuals as her patients. Taking full advantage of this unusual opportunity, she fed them, bathed them, clothed them, taught them, and medically provided for all of them with interventions she could devise for their benefit.
After 20+ years of working with them she had compiled a complete curriculum on how and with what they could be taught to get to become more civilized, trained, and successful with daily living skills, as well as being provided with academics.
She then went on an extensive international lecturing tour over the next several years in Europe and America to initiate help for individuals who are multi-handicapped.
Though her messages and techniques were praised and extremely well received in her sold out lectures, no one other than herself was ever willing to attempt teaching individuals labeled developmentally disabled with the techniques that she espoused.
But some educators realized the power of her work, and decided to initiate the building of Montessori schools everywhere, named after her, but for individuals who were of “normal” or above normal intelligence. Today there are innumerable Montessori schools in every state in the country and in most countries in the world.
However, being the heretical jerk that I am I decided to call up every Montessori school in the state of Ohio and inquire respectfully whether or not any of these schools allowed in any individuals who were developmentally disabled and/or multi-handicapped to attend. I discovered that not a single school in Ohio did or does so. As a matter of fact parents wishing their children to attend these very privileged schools have to fill out a voluminous admission packet, while their children must be tested to see whether or not they meet the very competitive admission requirements, and then get on a lengthy waiting list to be considered for acceptance.
I hardly was able to pick my jaw up off of the floor with all of this very startling information. I quit working with the Civic Innovation Lab as they were not able to help me gain admission into the closed shops of the toy companies. I am still pushing for greater awareness of what I have discovered regarding literacy and am still trying to get my invention marketed though I no longer own the patent as it has gone “public” which means that anyone can now make it anywhere.
How does my work with folks who are clearly intellectually and developmentally challenged possibly translate and carry over and work with folks who are neuro-typical (of normal or above normal intelligence?
Simple, and here’s a story for you: Dr. Maria Montessori spent over 20 years in a barn with a dirt floor working with her state-designated patients, a diverse collection of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 100% of her methods, procedures, educational tools, models, and philosophies, etc. were formulated and developed by working with these individuals with profound handicaps and disabilities. Here is a listing of a few accomplished individuals who have graduated from Montessori school systems that have all used the incorporated methods, procedures, educational tools, models, and philosophies, etc. created by Dr. Maria Montessori:
Bell, Joshua GRAMMY award winning violinist
Bezos, Jeff Founder of Amazon.com
Blaine, David magician
Brazelton, T Berry Pediatrician author, Harvard Medical school emeritus
Brin, Sergey Founder of Google
Child, Julia First TV chef
Clinton, Chelsea, daughter of Bill and Hillary
Combs, Sean famous rapper
Curry, Seth NBA Player
Curry, Stephen, NBA player
Doerr, Anthony author, Pulitzer Prize recipient
Drucker, Peter, Author, awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
Erickson, Erik psychologist and author
Fanning, Dakota Academy award nominated actress
Frank, Anne famous child diarist from WW2
Gilbert, Melissa Actress
Gilbert, Sarah Actress
Graham, Katherine Pulitzer Prize winning author
Hunt, Helen Academy award winning actress
Keller, Helen Political activist, author, lecturer
Ma, Yo Yo, 15 GRAMMY awards, cellist
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia Nobel Prize-winning novelist
Noor, Her Majesty Queen of Jordan
Page, Larry Founder of Google
Prince George of Cambridge
Saylor, Morgan actor
Smith, Will Jr, Maryland Sate Senator
Sridnar, Devi Rhodes Scholar
Swift, Taylor GRAMMY award winner
Wales, Founder Wikipedia
Webber, Andrew Lloyd, Composer
Wright, Will video game designer
Zuckerberg, Mark Founder of Facebook
So, don’t try to argue with me about the efficacy of my program or discoveries unless you wish to perfectly demonstrate Einstein’s (he didn’t really come up with this, though it is still unfortunately attributed to him) definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Our current educational systems, nationally, have used the same theoretical models of learning transmission, seemingly forever, and have continuously produced an astonishing 40% of graduating seniors who remain illiterate or functionally illiterate. OK? Which line do you want to be in?