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Dr. Maria Montessori was the first woman physician in Italy. Her interest as a physician was to care for mentally challenged children. Basing her work on the principles evolved by two french doctors, Dr. Montessori was successful in increasing the level of development of these children to the extent where they could enter a mainstream school.
This led her to extend her research in the development of other children. She observed that the natural aptitude of a child and his or her potential for development were being overlooked and were not being harnessed to bring about the greatest growth.
Dr. Montessori observed that nature had taken special care to give certain special sensitivities and a very receptive mind to aid the unconscious learning process that goes on in a child during infancy. Experimentation with the preschool children brought the understanding that this special ability could be conserved, aided and harnessed during the ensuing years of childhood-especially during 2 to 6 years in a well prepared environment that brings the world of knowledge, concepts and skills within the grasp of the child. In applying this idea, Dr. Montessori experienced that she had found a way to channel their willingness to learn, their spontaneity of interest and the driving inner energy which seemed to multiply with every fresh challenge.
Normalization is a technical word borrowed from the field of anthropology. It means becoming a contributing member of society. Dr. Montessori used the term normalization to distinguish one of the processes that she saw in her work with the children at San Lorenzo in Rome. This process, the process of normalization, occurs when development is proceeding normally. She used the word normalization so that people would think that these qualities belonged to all children and were not something special just for a few. Normalization appears through the repetition of a three step cycle.
We recognize this cycle as the normal work cycle in a Montessori environment.