How is Montessori Different Than Traditional Education Systems?

HOLISTIC DEVELOPMENT VS. CORE COMPETENCE

Montessori education values the emotional, social, physical, and cognitive needs which are essential for the development of the whole child.

Traditional systems of education value teaching children mastery of skills and test performance.

SELF-DISCIPLINE VS. TEACHER DIRECTED DISCIPLINE

In Montessori, the learning structure and prepared environment of the classroom promote motivation and self-discipline through
freedom coupled with responsibility.

In traditional education, the teacher disciplines and encourages motivation using a system of external rewards and punishments.

COOPERATION VS. COMPETITION

Mixed-age classrooms and self-directed learning encourage cooperation and the development of social skills in a Montessori classroom.

Individual learning graded by the teacher; collaboration and cooperation are secondary in a traditional classroom

CONCENTRATION VS. COMPLETION

Long work periods in a Montessori classroom allow children to focus on deep learning.

Tightly scheduled days in a traditional classroom value completion of teacher-directed work.

Lower Elementary Group Lesson
Lower Elementary Stamp Game

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE LEARNING

The child moves freely around the Montessori classroom, choosing her own work — and the pace at which she does it — while being guided by the teacher.

The child listens to and follows directions from the teacher who sets the pace of instruction in a traditional classroom.

SELF MOTIVATION VS EXTERNAL MOTIVATION

Montessori education emphasizes internal (self) motivation. The classroom is a precisely prepared environment for individual instruction and self-paced learning. Well-tested teaching techniques and materials are designed to maximize children’s time in the classroom. Teachers show students how to create order and discover principles by means of carefully demonstrated lessons that can then be practiced at will.

Traditional education relies heavily upon external motivation. Students are expected to learn specific subjects according to fixed, uniform schedules. Whole class instruction often requires that childhood enthusiasm be suppressed to preserve teaching plans and to maintain classroom order.

Do you see this in traditional schools?

See how a child learns in Infant and Toddler Montessori classrooms in this American Montessori Society video.

The Kindergarten Year

Find out why the Kindergarten year is so important in the Early Childhood program in this American Montessori Society video.

The Elementary Classroom

Our Lower Elementary Lead Teacher, Mrs. Proctor, took part in making an American Montessori Society video which provides and overview of how an elementary Montessori classroom works.