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Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952) was an Italian physician and educator, a noted humanitarian and devout Catholic best known for the philosophy of education which bears her name. Her educational method is in use today in public as well as private schools throughout the world.
At the age of thirteen she attended an all-boy technical school in preparation for her dream of becoming an engineer. At the time, she insisted specifically that she did not want to be a teacher because the teaching profession was one of the few that women were encouraged to take part in at the time. Montessori was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School, becoming one of the first female doctors in Italy. She was a member of the University's Psychiatric Clinic and became intrigued with trying to educate the "special needs" or "unhappy little ones"and the "uneducable" in Rome. In 1896, she gave a lecture at the Educational Congress in Torino about the training of the disabled. The Italian Minister of Education was in attendance, and, sufficiently impressed by her arguments, appointed her the same year as director of the ScuolaOrtofrenica, an institution devoted to the care and education of the mentally retarded. She accepted, in order to put her theories to the test. Her first notable success was to have several of her 8 year old students apply to take the State examinations for reading and writing. The "defective" children not only passed, but had above-average scores, an achievement described as "the first Montessori miracle."Montessori's response to their success was "if mentally disabled children could be brought to the level of normal children then (she) wanted to study the potential of 'normal' children".

  Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation."
(From the foreword to "The Discovery of the Child", 1948)


 
 
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