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Maria Montessoni

Montessori, Maria (1870-1952), Italian educator and doctor, born in Chiaravalle, and educated at the University of Rome. She is best known for the Montessori method of teaching young children, introduced to Rome in 1907. Her method, which has since spread throughout the world, stresses the development of initiative and self-reliance by permitting children to do by themselves the things that interest them, but within strictly disciplined limits. A wide variety of special equipment of increasing complexity is used to help direct the interests of the child and hasten development.

When a child is ready to learn new and more difficult tasks, the teacher guides the child's first endeavours in order to avoid wasted effort and the learning of wrong habits; otherwise the child learns alone. It has been reported that the Montessori method has enabled children to learn to read and write much more quickly and with greater facility than has otherwise been possible. Her writings include The Montessori Method (1912) and Advanced Montessori Method (1917).