(KFVS) - March is Women's History Month, in the spotlight for March 3, 2016 is physician and educator Maria Montessori (1870-1952), best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name. Her educational method is in use today in an estimated 20,000 schools worldwide.
Montessori was born in provincial Italy to a middle class family. She was an avid learner and, in 1896 graduated with honors from the University of Rome, becoming the first female doctor in Italy.
As a doctor, Montessori chose the field of pediatrics, and treated many poor and working-class children at the free clinic of her medical-school alma mater.
She became the director of a school for developmentally disabled children in 1900, and there began her extensive research into early childhood development and education. Montessori put together her own educational theories, which she tested on her students, and found many of them showed remarkable improvement.
In 1907, the Italian government allowed Montessori to test her teaching methods among non-disabled children, putting her in charge of 60 students from the slums, ages 1-6 years old.