Dr. Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. At the age of 24 she became the first woman to receive a medical degree from the University of Rome. As assistant physician in the psychiatric clinic of the University of Rome, she became interested in the learning ability of mentally and physically atypical children. Her interest in this field was furthered by her reading of the success of Dr. Edward Sequin, a French physician, who was doing extensive work with the education of [people with learning disabilities].

Dr. Montessori founded the Orthophrenic School in Rome in 1898 and carried on much of her early work in this school. She also lectured at the University of Rome on pedagogical anthropology. In 1922 she was named inspector general of all schools in Italy. Her work was interrupted in 1933 because she was not able to accept the type of training the Mussolini regime was imposing on children. She left Italy in 1933 and did not return until 1947.

Madame Montessori spent the last of her life speaking and writing about the Montessori method in Spain, India, England, and the Netherlands. Her work was by now accepted for the normal child as well as the mentally handicapped. Dr. Maria Montessori died in 1952 while visiting the Netherlands.

The author of this article, Dr. John R. O'Donnell, is in his second year on the University of Dayton faculty. He has lectured widely and is looked upon as a resource person in the field of elementary school mathematics, an area in which he has written several books.



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