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What is education? Is it a program of institutionally approved performances, or a collection of self-directed experiences? Such questions absorbed Maria Montessori throughout her life. Born in 1870 in 12 Chiaravalle Italy, Montessori showed a strong independent will even as a child. As a teenager, she told her parents that she wanted to study engineering, 13 a position that was widely thought unladylike. By the age of 20, she had changed her mind and decided to pursue an even less traditional path: medicine. Despite suffering ridicule and isolation, 14 Montessori's medical studies at the University of Rome were completed and she became one of the first female physicians in Italy.
Although Montessori's practice focused on psychiatry, her interests gravitated toward education. In 1900, she was appointed co-director of the Scuola Magistrale Ortofrenica, a training institute for special education teachers. Montessori believed that, in order for so-called "deficient" children to thrive, they needed respect and stimulation rather than 15 the regimentation they were receiving in institutions.
In 1907 Maria opened the Casa dei Bambini, or "Children's House," a daycare center for impoverished children in which she could test her theory that 16 children's minds each learn according to they're own schedule. She personalized a curriculum for each child rather than providing a standardized course of study. While learning important academic and life skills, many formerly aggressive and unmanageable children became more emotionally balanced and self-directed. Word of her success with the Casa dei Bambini soon began to 17 distribute internationally, and her methods for child-centered education became widely adopted across Europe.
18 In the 25 years after their founding, Montessori schools were regarded as a remedy to the educational problems associated with rapid urban population growth throughout Europe.
19 So as fascism began to proliferate in the 1930s throughout Spain, Italy, and Germany, child-centered education came to be seen as a threat to the power of the state. In 1933, the totalitarian regimes in Italy and Germany closed all Montessori schools and declared 20 them subversive and that they were undermining their power.
Even outside of Europe, 21 the response to Montessori's ideas were divided. Many eminent scholars, inventors, and politicians-among them Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, and Woodrow Wilson-greeted her ideas with enthusiasm. But her theories were challenged by William H. Kirkpatrick, a leading educational reformer and professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. His 1914 book, The Montessori System Examined, declared Montessori's psychological theories wildly out-of-date. 22
It was not until 1958 that a new generation of Montessorians revived and updated her methods in the United States. In 1958, the first American Montessori school, the Whitby School, was founded in Greenwich, Connecticut, where it thrives today.
18. Which choice provides the most effective introduction to this paragraph?
22. At this point, the paragraph would benefit most from a discussion of
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