Italian Physician and Educator
1870 – 1952 A.D.
Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, founder of the Montessori System of teaching children. She studied at the University of Rome and was the first woman in Italy to secure the degree of Doctor of Medicine.
She became interested in the training of feeble-minded children, and at the request of the Minister of Education delivered a series of lectures to teachers in Rome. The success of her work led her to turn her attention to the education of normal children, and in 1907 the first House of Childhood was opened, and was soon followed by others.
Dr. Montessori maintained her connection with these schools until 1911, when she turned her attention to experiments for extending her methods and applying them to older children. Her work attracted wide attention among laymen as well as among professional educators. The central principle of her system is the doctrine that the pupils should be allowed freedom to unfold themselves. The teacher ceases to be a dictator and becomes a supervisor and guide; the pupils have no other incentive to work than the joy of work without the stimulus of rewards and punishments; the impelling force comes from within and is no longer imposed from without; and concentration on attractive occupations leads to self-control without the intervention of restrictive discipline.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.