.... 1870, Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, to a civil-servant father and "a well educated, wealthy" mother "devoted to liberation and unity of Italy." An avid student, Maria found her desire to study medicine opposed by her father and impaired by Rome's educational establishment. Her persistence won out, however, and in 1896 she became the 1st woman to graduate from medical school in Italy. Her work with children in asylums for the mentally ill sowed the seeds of a career in early childhood education, and development of what is now known worldwide as "the Montessori Method." (Montessori's above at left, with an unnamed child.) Exiled from Italy during World War II because of her opposition to fascism, Montessori established an Education for Peace program in India, for which she twice was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She died in 1952 in the Netherlands.
... 1957 (50 years ago today), at midnight, the Federation of Malay became independent of British rule. The multi-ethnic, multi-religious country known today as Malaysia (flag at right) "boasts one of south-east Asia's most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability."