Maria Montessori, born in Italy in 1870, was in many ways ahead of her time. She 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 cared for young children and became profoundly interested in their development. She studied children of all races and cultures in many countries around the world, soon seeing the universality of the laws of human development taking place before her. Through careful observation, 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 auto didactic materials she provided. Dr. Montessori’s approach to education stemmed from a solid grounding in biology, psychiatry and anthropology. She continued her observations and evolved her method throughout her life, widening and deepening her understanding until her death in 1952.