Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first female doctor in Italy to graduate in 1897. She completed her training with studies in philosophy and psychology, and in 1904 became professor of anthropology at the Royal University of Rome.
She first looked after mentally handicapped children and her observations led her to the work of Jean Itard and Édouard Seguin, two famous French doctors. She quickly understands the importance of movement and sensory development in building a child’s intelligence.
She discovers the different phases of a child’s development, and in particular the importance of his “sensitive periods”. She sets out to develop educational materials for these children and achieves remarkable results with those who are seen by everyone as hopeless children.
They perform better than so-called “normal” children from traditional education. Which makes him believe that his methods can give even better results with them.
She opened the first Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) in San Lorenzo, a very disadvantaged suburb of Rome, where she welcomed children aged 3-6.
She continues her scientific work and she discovers very important phenomena in the development of the child:
It was the start of worldwide recognition, the work of calibrating its scientific material, the training of Montessori educators around the world, and the writing of its books and lectures. During her life she lived and worked in many countries: India, the United States, Spain and Holland.
She was decorated with the Legion of Honour in France and received a standing ovation from UNESCO.
She founded the International Montessori Association in Amsterdam in 1929. Maria Montessori writes many books, and she is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
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