10/9/2021  WCIR.biz

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)

The Italians That Built America: Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori went against imposed gender limitations of the time and became the first female doctor in Italy. Born in 1870, in Chiaravalle (province of Ancona), Italy, Montessori attend classes at an all boy’s technical institute when she was 14. Against her father’s will, Montessori then graduated with high honors from the University of Rome’s medical school in 1896, and became Italy’s first female physician. She focused on pediatrics and psychiatry, pioneering theories in early childhood education. In 1907, the Italian government put Montessori in charge of Casa dei Bambini, a school of 60 students, ranging in age from 1 to 6, from lower income areas. By 1925, more than 1,000 of Montessori's schools were opened in America, but by 1940 only a few of these schools remained. During the 1960s, Montessori’s schools experienced a revival and today, many schools around the world operate under the Montessori educational approach. The teaching method is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom without limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development. At the start of World War II, Montessori went to India, where she developed a program called Education for Peace, earning her two Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

NIAF funds the Research Lectureship in Education, a grant that aims to support an Italian elementary/middle school teacher or university lecturer/researcher with research interests in early childhood education that involve the Montessori Method. The grant is in partnership with The Fulbright Program and Georgetown University. Learn more HERE

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