Montessori vs. Traditional Education

A Montessori program is based on self-direction, non-competitive and cooperative activities that help a child develop a strong self-image, high levels of academic and social competence, and the confidence to face challenges with optimism.  Encouraged to make decisions from an early age, Montessori-educated children are problem-solvers who can make appropriate choices, manage their time, and work well with others.  They exchange ideas and discuss work freely.

Montessori Traditional
Views the child holistically, valuing cognitive, physiological, social, and spiritual development Views the child in terms of competence, skill level and achievement with an emphasis on core curricula standards and social development
Child is an active participant in learning; allowed to move about and respectfully explore the classroom environment; teacher is an instructional facilitator and guide Child is a more passive participant in learning; teacher has a more dominate central role in classroom activity
A carefully prepared learning environment and method encourages development of internal self-discipline and intrinsic motivation Teacher acts as a primary enforcer of external discipline promoting extrinsic motivation
Instruction, both individual and group, adapts to students’ learning styles and developmental levels Instruction, both individual and group, adapts to core curriculum benchmarks
Three-year span of age grouping, three-year cycle allows teachers, students and parents to develop supportive, collaborative, and trusting relationships Same-age and/or skill-level grouping; one year cycle can limit development of strong teacher, student, and parent collaboration
Values concentration and depth of experience; supplies uninterrupted time for work cycle to develop Values completion of assignments; time is tightly scheduled
Child allowed to spot own errors through feedback from the materials; errors are viewed as part of the learning process Work is usually corrected by the teacher; errors are viewed as mistakes
Learning is reinforced internally through the child’s own repetition of an activity and internal feelings of success Learning is reinforced externally by test scores and rewards, competition and grades
Care of self and environment are emphasized as integral to the learning experience Less emphasis on self-care, spatial awareness, and care of the environment
Goal is to foster a love for learning Goal is to master core curriculum standards

-American Montessori Society 2001