When Maria Montessori docked in New York on her first trip to America in 1913, crowds greeted her ship and her arrival made the front pages. Montessori, Italy’s first woman doctor, was toasted as a revolutionary educator. By the end of her visit a few weeks later, "It seemed reasonable to suppose that American education would never be the same again," Rita Kramer writes in Maria Montessori: A Biography.
Instead, interest in Montessori’s method withered in the United States. When she decided to leave Italy in 1934 because Mussolini’s regime was interfering with her schools, Montessori decamped to Holland. While her reform movement had influence in Europe and Asia, Kramer writes how it "took on more and more of the character of a special cult rather than becoming part of the mainstream of educational theory and practice."