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EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN: Maria Montessori

Airs Friday, July 18, 2014 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952) visits the Gatehouse School i...

Credit: Courtesy of Jack Esten/Popperfoto/Getty Images (1951)

Above: Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870 - 1952) visits the Gatehouse School in London, where her revolutionary teaching methods are employed, 1951. (Agency reference - 80439206)

They seemed to have it all – glamour, power, wealth and adoration. Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Indira Gandhi, Madame Chiang Kai-shek... they were worshiped, loved and sometimes even feared by millions the world over. These were the pioneers who showed that a woman could be the equal of any man. But behind the public success, there was so often private heartache and personal tragedy. Featuring archive, interviews and dramatic re-enactment, this series reveals the price these extraordinary women paid for their achievements. Yet in the end, they overcame all adversities to emerge as triumphant, inspirational icons of the 20th century.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Association Montessori Internationale

Map reflecting the diffusion of the Montessori Method across the world.

Quote By Maria

"Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities." - Dr. Maria Montessori

"Maria Montessori" - Maria Montessori was a woman of vision. In a remarkable life spanning eight decades, Maria Montessori, challenged convention to pioneer a radical new system of education; one which focused on the child as an independent learner and which spread to all corners of the world, affecting the schooling of millions.

Her visionary method of education has helped produce some of the most creative and successful people on the planet including the founders of Amazon.com, Wikipedia and Google. But Montessori’s revolution might never have occurred had she not had the tenacity to confront prejudice head on.

As a young woman in nineteenth century Italy she defied social convention to study medicine and to become one of Europe’s first female doctors. She campaigned tirelessly for the rights of women, children and the disadvantaged. She risked public condemnation by teaching sexual health to women and defied Italian society to become an unmarried mother.

By the 1930s her system of education had spread across from the USA to Japan. but she was forced to flee her homeland when she dared confront Mussolini. Her works were later burned by Hitler and she became a nomad, traveling the world and spreading a message of peace through education. She leaves a legacy of thousands of Montessori schools across the world and having revolutionized the way in which the world views its children.

Association Montessori Internationale is on Facebook, and you can follow @MontessoriAMI on Twitter.

Distributed by BBC Worldwide

EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN: Maria Montessori Preview

Maria Montessori was a woman of vision. In a remarkable life spanning eight decades, Maria Montessori, challenged convention to pioneer a radical new system of education; one which focused on the child as an independent learner and which spread to all corners of the world, affecting the schooling of millions.

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