Dr. Montessori was the first woman in Italy to qualify as a physician. She developed an interest in the needs of those said to be 'uneducable'. Maria Montessori developed a teaching program that enabled 'defective' children to read and write. She sought to teach skills not by having children repeatedly try it, but by developing exercises that prepare them. These exercises would then be repeated: Looking becomes reading; touching becomes writing. The success of her method then caused her to ask questions of 'normal' education and the ways, which failed children. Dr. Montessori had the chance to test her program and ideas with the establishment of the first Casa dei Bambini (Children's house or household) in Rome in 1907. This house had been built as part of a slum redevelopment. This house and those that followed were designed to provide a good environment for children to live and learn. An emphasis was placed on self-determination and self-realization. This entailed developing a concern for others and discipline and to do this children engaged in the exercise of daily living. These and other exercises were to function like a ladder allowing the child to pick up the challenge and to judge their progress. 'The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child's whole personality' (Dr. Maria Montessori - The Absorbent Mind: 206). This connected with a further element in the Montessori program - 'child centered learning' not teacher centered learning. The teacher was the 'keeper' of the environment. While children got on with their activities the task was to observe and to intervene from the periphery. The focus on self-realization through independent activity, the concern with attitude, and the focus on the educator as the keeper of the environment (and making use of their scientific powers of observation and reflection) - all have some echo in the work of informal educators. However, it is Dr. Montessori's notion of the Children's House as a stimulating environment in which participants can learn to take responsibility that has a particular resonance.