Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 - May 6, 1952) was an Italian educator, scientist, physician, philosopher, feminist, and humanitarian.
She was born in Chiaravalle (Ancona), Italy. Montessori was the first female Italian physician in the modern era. As such, she was given a "menial" task: to try to educate the "mentally retarded" and the "uneducable" in Rome. She opened her first school, in Rome, on January 6, 1907.
The Montessori method of education that she derived from this experience has subsequently been applied successfully to children and is quite popular in many parts of the world. Despite much criticism of her method in the early 1930s-1940s, her method of education has been applied and has undergone a revival. It can now be found on six continents and throughout the United States.
By 1907 Montessori had established the first Casa dei Bambini or Children's House, in Rome. By 1913, there was an intense interest in her method in North America, which later waned. (Nancy McCormick Rambusch revived the method in America by establishing the American Montessori Society in 1960.) From the Netherlands - where she lived since 1936 - Montessori travelled to India on invitation by the Theosophical Society. She gave courses on various sites like Madras and Karachi and conducted her own school in Kodaikanal, for the duration of World War II. After her stay in India Montessori lived the remainder of her life in the Netherlands, which is now the headquarters of the AMI, or Association Montessori Internationale, which she founded in 1929. She died and was buried in Noordwijk aan Zee. Her son Mario headed the AMI until his death in 1982.