Dr. Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori, born in 1870, was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education, and anthropology. In 1906, she resigned from her medical practice so that she could dedicate herself to more intensive work with children.
Her work led to the development of a philosophy of teaching known as the Montessori Method. She believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a "blank slate" waiting to be written upon. Her main contributions to the work of those of us raising and educating children are in these areas:
Preparing the most natural and life supporting environment for the child
Observing the child freely in this environment
Continually adapting the environment in order for the child to fulfill his/her greatest potential- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Her first Montessori classroom officially opened in 1907, and she began training her instructors two years later. She wrote The Montessori Methods, which was translated into English in 1912.
In 1913, Alexander Graham Bell and his wife founded the Montessori Educational Association. Other notable contemporaries supported her work, including Helen Keller and Thomas Edison. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three seperate occasions.
The inspired concepts of Maria Montessori have spread around the globe and are used in the Americas, Europe, India, China, Russia, and Japan. Her influence has transformed once dull, monotonous classrooms to places of vibrancy and spontaneity.