Maria Montessori


Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori, born in 1870, was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree.

In her work at the University of Rome psychiatric clinic Montessori developed an interest in the treatment of special needs children and, for several years, she worked, wrote, and spoke on their behalf.

In 1907 she was given the opportunity to study "normal" children, taking charge of fifty poor children from the dirty, desolate streets of the San Lorenzo, a slum on the outskirts of Rome. The news of the unprecedented success of her work in this Casa dei Bambini "House of Children" soon spread around the world.

She was invited to set up a classroom in San Francisco, where spectators watched twenty-one children, all new to this Montessori method, behind a glass wall for four months. The only two gold medals awarded for education went to this class, and the education of young children was altered forever.

During World War II Maria Montessori was forced into exile from Italy because of her antifascist views and lived and worked in India. She was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since her death an interest in Montessori's methods have continued to spread throughout the world. Her message to those who emulated her was always to turn one's attention to the child, to "follow the child". It is because of this basic belief and the observation guidelines left by her, that Maria Montessori's ideas will never become obsolete.