About Alessandro Montessori by Donald McClurkin
I am Alessandro Montessori, the proud father of Maria Montessori. Born in Fararra, Italy in 18323, I lived a reserved, disciplined, patriotic life as an Italian soldier and, later, as an accountant in a salt and tobacco factory in Italy. I was recognized and decorated with a medal of valor in 1849 for my part in the successful unification of Italy. I really wanted to be free of the Austrian occupation of Italy, but, on the other hand, I am a bit insecure in handling the resultant freedom with its changes and obligations.
From 1850-1853 I volunteered to helped the Pope put the church’s financial work in order. I enjoyed this very much. After that I left to work again in the salt factories in Bologna and Faenza. In 1859 I was promoted to be the Inspector of Finances and Accountant of all of the salt and tobacco factory finances.
When I met Renilde Stoppani, I was a middle-class farming executive, managing all of the grain, grapes, arts, and leather-making of the area. She was a beautiful, creative and imaginative young woman and shared every idea I had, and more, about the unification and liberation of Italy. We were married after twelve months of courtship in Venice. I later discovered that she welcomed change more and more rapidly than I. Five years later we had Maria who became the center of our lives. She was so cute and smart, enough to see our differences and to take advantage of them. Right away she saw that I was not comfortable with change and her mother was more flexible than I. Consequently Maria went to her mother for permission for unconventional activities.
Maria was a good student so we decided to move to Rome when she was five to give her every advantage to rise to her full potential. We had wonderful times as her math skills developed, but when she later wanted to compete with male students and enter a male-dominated profession, I tried to redirect her. But she was stubborn, just like me, and I relented. After a few years she then decided to enter medical school. I flat out said, “NO!” She went to the Pope, got his approval and went anyway. I just let her go and didn’t say a word to her for four years! Would you believe that she topped the class and wrote a brilliant final paper? I surprised her and went to hear her read the paper. She looked at me, and I smiled at her from the back row! I also went to her commencement service where she received many honors.
Even though I missed out on a lot because of my stubborn resistance to her ideas, I have the grandest daughter in the world! She knows how to change this world and will leave a legacy for the Montessori name wherever she goes.