Born in 1870 in Ancona, Italy, Montessori pursued a scientific education, much to the dismay of her family, and became the first woman physician in Italy. Specializing in pediatrics, she made time to support various social reform movements including the women’s suffrage movement, peace efforts, and child labor law reform.
What has become known as the “Montessori Method” was derived from her observation and work with Rome’s most disadvantaged children. She often said, “ I studied my children, and they taught me how to teach.”
Montessori’s prime productive period lasted from the opening of the first Children’s House in 1907 until the mid-1920’s. During this time, she continued her study of children and developed a vastly expanded curriculum and methodology. Montessori schools were established throughout Europe and North America, and Dr. Montessori gave up her medical practice to devote all of her energies to advocating the rights and intellectual potential of all children. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948, Dr. Montessori was acknowledged as the world’s leading educator, and today there is a growing consensus that many of her ideas were decades ahead of their time.