Traditional vs. Montessori Education

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“Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child open up himself to life.” -Maria Montessori

Montessori and Traditional education philosophies are often compared and weighed by parents. There are so many aspects of Montessori philosophy that truly set it apart from the others. We have talked before about the prepared environment, the three-hour work cycle, the three-year age groups, but there is more to discuss. Montessori emphasizes learning through all of the five senses. Children in Montessori classrooms learn at their own pace, and according to their own choice of activities. Learning is a process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline…and a love of learning. The mixed aged classrooms allow for the older children to spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. This is a remarkable phenomena to observe. Montessori encourages individuality and creativity, while maintaining a structured environment. There is much room for freedom of choice with individual works that are chosen, but it all begins on a small scale where more independence is granted as the child reveals they are ready.

A few, quick comparisons to ponder…

Montessori: Views the child holistically, valuing cognitive, psychological, social, and spiritual development.

Traditional: Views the child in terms of competence, skill level and achievement with an emphasis on core curricula standards and social development.

Montessori: A carefully prepared learning environment and method encouragess development of internal discipline and intrinsic motivation.

Traditional: Teacher acts as primary enforcer of external discipline promoting extrinsic motivation.

Montessori: A child’s learning pace is internally determined.

Traditional: Instructional pace is usually set by core curricula standard expectations, group norms or teacher.