Dr. Maria Montessori was born in 1870 in Ancona, Italy. Overcoming social stereotypes against women, she pursued a scientific education and became the first woman physician in Italy.
In 1907, Dr. Montessori's scientific background and studies of how children learn led her to establish the first "Children's House," which introduced the revolutionary concept of a child-centered environment. This child-centered environment featured furniture built for children, low shelves for children to access work independently, and materials inviting to children. This environment offered children the opportunity to explore independently because the classroom was designed for them at their level.
One of the fundamental concepts of the "Children's House" was the forming of a small community within the school consisting of children, teachers and parents. It was integral to the success of the school that the children form their own community, taking responsibility for themselves and their environment and gaining a sense of control over their education. This community fosters security for the child, and a respect toward each member of the community.
Dr. Montessori utilized her scientific background to experiment with new learning materials called "work". She designed "work" to inspire children to experiment, logically solve problems and discover answers. In her studies, she analyzed the skills and concepts involved in each subject and noted the sequence in which children most easily mastered them. She studied how children grasped abstract concepts and created concrete learning models designed to isolate and teach one concept or skill at a time with a minimum of instruction. Her scientific approach lead her to create a "Control of Error" within the learning material, which allows the students to determine for themselves if they have done the exercise correctly. This educational model allows the child to pursue an independent educational path with the guidance of teachers and the influence of other children within the community.