Early Work with Special Children

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Dr. Montessori was given the opportunity to work at the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Rome. Part of her duties included visits to the asylums. It was during this time that Dr. Montessori gained an interest in special needs children. She was a woman with a generous heart and she yearned to help them. While giving a speech at the pedagogical congress in Turin, Dr. Montessori spoke on moral education. It was her feeling that children with special needs deserve the same as or more education than “normal” children. Dr. Montessori was also invited by Dr. Guido Bacelli to give a series of lectures in Rome on the education of the feebleminded. This led to the beginning of the orthophrenic school which Dr. Montessori directed. The children that were brought to her were children from the asylums and children who were thought to be hopeless. Dr. Montessori worked very hard and long observing, charting and making materials to help these children. Through her hard work these children became able to read and write and take exams along with the “normal” children. After two years Dr. Montessori decided to give up her work at the school and concentrate on teaching “normal” children. Dr. Montessori studied and took courses in philosophy and psychology. She was very interested in the works of Itard who studied deaf-mutes and of Sequin who studied deficients. Dr. Montessori so wanted to absorb every word, meaning, and feeling from the books of these two men that she hand wrote their books in Italian. Also during this time Dr. Montessori did a special study of nervous diseases of children which was published in technical journals. She was also the permanent external examiner in the Faculty of Pedagogy and she occupied the Chair of Hygiene at the Magistero Femminile in Rome, which was one of the two women’s colleges in Italy. Dr. Montessori’s first publication was Pedagogical Anthropology, which she wrote while serving as a Professor at the University of Rome. Dr. Montessori also maintained a private practice and worked in clinics and hospitals in Rome.

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