Kireet Joshi
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The Good Teacher and The Good Pupil

When, at the age of fourteen, Maria Montessori was advised by her parents to become a teacher (it was practically the only career open to women at that time) her reaction was categorical: anything but that! Yet she was to become one of the most celebrated educators of all time. Her name came to be associated with a new method of teaching which has gained a world-wide following.

Maria first thought of becoming an engineer because of her deep interest in mathematics, but finally decided to study medicine. That was easier said than done, for in the Italy of those days only men attended medical school. When the head of the Board of Education told her that it was not possible, she remarked quietly, "I know I shall become a Doctor of Medicine. "1 Surely enough, she succeeded. Despite all opposition she became the first woman medical student in Italy.

But this was not the end of her difficulties. The other students resented her intrusion into their exclusively masculine world and subjected her to many petty persecutions. In addition, her father continued to disapprove of her chosen career. It came to such a point that she thought of abandoning the attempt. That very day she had an experience which was to alter her outlook on life. On her way home from school she met a shabbily dressed woman with a child of about two years. Hardly hearing the professional whine of the beggar, she intently observed the little child playing on the ground with a small piece of coloured paper. Something in the