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In 1907, Italian educator and physician Maria Montessori introduced a revolutionary method for teaching the young children of Rome's working class. Today, there are thousands of Montessori schools throughout the world -- and nearly as many interpretations of the Montessori method. This book, one of the first to include original photographs of the first Montessori schools, explores aspects of her theory of education, focusing primarily on the learning materials that are so critical to carrying out Montessori's philosophy. A classic Montessori School classroom is a place of order and calm, where children can move about independently, choosing their activities from four shelves of specially designed blocks, beads, puzzles, and other equipment. In four detailed essays, this book explores the architectural and aesthetic importance of these classrooms; the effect they had on the lives of children in pre-WWII Germany; how the Montessori method blended with the culture and politics of that era; and how it is employed in schools around the globe today. A brief biography of Maria Montessori and many never before published photographs of early Montessori schools make this a unique contribution to the literature of an important and popular educational movement.