Birth & Family:
Montessori was born in Ancona, Italy. Her father, Alessandro Montessori, 33 years old at the time, was an official of the Ministry of Finance. Her mother, Renilde Stoppani, 25 years old, was well educated for the times and was probably related to Italian geologist and paleontologist. While she did not have any particular mentor, she was very close to her mother who readily encouraged her. She also had a loving relationship with her father, although he disagreed with her choice to continue her education.
Maria herself proved remarkably talented. She was a confident and strong-minded lady who excelled in school by the role of leader in different games and conversations. At the age of thirteen she got admission in a technical school, a thing considered off-limits to females at that time. She scored high marks that when she graduated, in 1886; she was able to enter in the Regio Istituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci. Here she studied math, natural sciences, and languages, again excelling beyond all expectations. It was here too that she became fascinated with the biological sciences, and began to dream of pursuing a career in medicine. Despite her gender, she was allowed to study medicine. When she presented her thesis in 1896, her absolute brilliance so impressed the all-male board of review that they awarded her a medical degree, making her Italy's first woman doctor. After this accomplishment she was promoted to surgical assistant at Santo Spirito, where she had worked previously as medical assistant. As a physician, Montessori specialized in pediatrics and the new field of psychiatry. She continued research at the University of Rome, joining the university staff in 1897. She became interested in psychology and human behavior, and in 1900, at the elapse of just a short span of four years after her degree in medicine, she accepted a professorship in anthropology at the University of Rome.
Work of Dr. Maria Montessori:
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