Born in Rome (1870-1952), Maria Montessori was the first woman to graduate at the Italian faculty of medicine in 1896.
Dr. Montessori began her career working in a psychiatric hospital for mentally disabled children. Strongly dissatisfied by the way these children were being treated, she set to work studying all the existing theories and methods regarding education.
During her research, Maria Montessori met Jean Itard and Edouard Seguin, both of whom had concentrated their studies around ‘l’enfant sauvage’ (‘the wild child’) and teaching methods for mentally disabled children. She spent two years experimenting and creating didactic material specifically for children with mental disorders. Following the success of her experimental work, Maria Montessori decided to make her method and material available to all children, and so began analysing in detail the child’s natural development.
In 1907, Maria Montessori opened the first ‘Casa dei Bambini’. She observed at length the children’s behaviour whilst they worked with the new material in this specially created environment. Dr. Montessori then perfected her material based on the results of her observations.