Dr. Maria Montessori
Born in Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori was the first woman to practice medicine in Italy, having graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Rome in 1896. As a physician, Dr. Montessori was in touch with young children and became profoundly interested in their development. Through careful and exhaustive scrutiny, she realized that children construct their own personalities as they interact with their environment. She also observed the manner in which they learned as they spontaneously chose and worked with the materials she provided.
Her approach to education stemmed from biology, psychiatry and anthropology. She studied children of all races and cultures around the world, soon seeing the universality of the laws of human development played out before her. She continued her observations throughout her life, widening and deepening her understanding until her death in 1952.
-American Montessori International website excerpt