Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in the town of Chiarvalle, Italy.
In 1896 she graduated from the University of Rome with top honors as the first woman doctor in Italy. In 1897 she volunteered
to join a research program at the psychiatric clinic of the University of Rome. As part of her work for the clinic she would
visit Rome’s asylums for the insane, seeking subjects for treatment at the clinic. On one such visit Maria saw a group
of children in a bare unfurnished room and realized that their environment deprived them of the sensorial stimulation which
they naturally craved, thereby contributing to their condition. She began to read all she could on the subject of children
with mental disabilities. Montessori became involved with the National League for the Education of Retarded Children which
later led her to the appointment as director of a new institution called the Orthophrenic School. This school took in children
with a broad spectrum of different disorders and disabilities. The children began to show such a progress that official visits
were made from various important institutions. Montessori spent two years working at the Orthophrenic School, bringing a scientific
analytical attitude to her work, teaching and observing by day and writing up notes by night. She acknowledged this period
as being the time she truly came to understand pedagogy, and it was here that she first developed ideas for her educational
materials. In 1901 Maria left the Orthophrenic School and after some years had the opportunity of working with normal children.
Bringing some of the education materials she had developed at the Orthophrenic School, she established her first Casa dei
Bambini or “Children’s House”. What Maria came to realize was that children who were placed in an environment
where activities were designed to support their natural development had the power to educate themselves. In the summer of
1909 she gave the first training course in her approach to early education. Her notes from this period developed into The
Montessori Method. In 1949 Maria received the first of three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize and in 1950 she was proclaimed
as a symbol for education and world peace. On the 6th of May, 1952, in Holland, she passed away, but her work continues
in all parts of the world and with children from all cultures and backgrounds and it is as relevant today as it ever was.