She was the first woman to practice medicine in Italy and her educational method is now followed everywhere in the world. Successful graduates from her alternative schools are many of the world’s most important innovators and personalities, such as Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, video game pioneer Will Wright (the creator of The Sims), Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, chef Julia Child, and even rapper P. Diddy.
After gaining on-field experience in insane asylums helping mentally challenged children, in 1904 she began working to her revolutionary educational method. In 1906 she founded a “Children’s House” in the San Lorenzo neighborhood in Rome for the children of disadvantaged households. Her strongest belief was that children have an inner drive to learn and that this potential can be expressed at its best in safe environments where they can experiment freely with objects and educational tools, creating and benefiting from the company of other kids.
In the 1930s, while Italy was under the Fascist regime, many of the Montessori schools the Italian government had previously sustained were shut down when Montessori herself opposed Mussolini’s order to have the kids wearing fascist uniforms and giving the fascist salute.