Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle (Ancona) in 1870. She was one of the first Italian women to graduate in medicine and among the first supporters of women's emancipation.
She spent her childhood and adolescence in Rome, where she began scientific studies, going against the wishes of her parents, who wanted her to become a teacher. Thanks to her determination and desire to study, she enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine, University "La Sapienza" , where she graduated in 1896.
After graduating, she became interested in the treatment of "special needs children" and, for several years, she worked, wrote, and spoke on their behalf. In 1907 she accepted the direction and organization of a kindergarten in San Lorenzo in Rome. She opened the first "Children's House", and thanks to the scientific training and the experience gained so far, she established the educational method which continues nowadays to spread throughout the world.
“The Montessori Method”, written and published in Citta di Castello (Perugia) during the first course of specialization (1909), was translated and welcomed throughout the world with great enthusiasm: it introduced not only a different and positive image of the child, but also a suitable method for his spontaneous development.
Another phenomenon that affected the public opinion around the world was the observation of children freely working with the activities chosen by themselves, in an atmosphere of peaceful cooperation. This unexpected success led to a profound change in Maria Montessori’s life, who began her pilgrimage throughout the scientific world, where new schools were opened and where increased the need for new teachers’ training and preparation.
In 1913, the year of the first International Course held in Rome, Maria Montessori visited repeatedly the United States, Spain, Holland and many other countries including India, where she remained for many years because of the Second World War. She came back to Italy in 1947 after leaving in 1934 with her son Mario forced to resign from the Opera Nazionale Montessori
, because of her antifascist view.
For over 40 years, Maria Montessori was present not only in the diffusion of the method, but also in scientific research in defense of child’s freedom. After “The method”, now known as “The discovery of the child”, other works were written: “Pedagogic Anthropology”, “Self-education”, “The child in the family”, all translated abroad, where the method continued to spread.
During her studies, Maria Montessori discovered and appreciated the "new characters" of the child and his irreplaceable role in the preservation and improvement of humanity.
Dr. Montessori’s socio-political commitment has never failed, and this is proved by the many lectures on peace across the world and collected in the book “Education and Peace”.
Admired throughout the world by the leading exponents of 1900 (Gandhi, Freud, Tagore, Marconi, Piaget, Edison Herriot, Masaryk, Adenauer, etc..), Maria Montessori died in Noordwijk (Netherlands) in 1952.
Maria Montessori was one of the most important scientific exponents of the twentieth century. Scientist, Physician and Educator, Maria Montessori became the protagonist of her time but also of the present, and her commitment and interest for the childhood is still vivid in our memories.