Montessori vs. Traditional Education

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  • Emphasis on cognitive structures and social development
  • Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom activity; child is an active participant in learning
  • Environment and method encourage internal self-discipline
  • Instruction, both individual and group, adapts to each Student's learning style
  • Mixed age grouping
  • Children are encouraged to teach, collaborate and help each other
  • Child chooses own work from interests and abilities
  • Child formulates own concepts from self-teaching materials
  • Child works as long as she/he wishes on chosen project
  • Child sets own learning pace to internalize information
  • Child spots own errors through feedback from the material
  • Learning is reinforced internally through the child's own repetition of an activity and internal feelings of success
  • Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration
  • Organized program for learning care of self and environment (polishing shoes, cleaning the sink, etc.)
  • Child can work where she/he is comfortable, moves around and talks at will (yet disturbs not the work of others); group work is voluntary and negotiable
  • Organized program for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process


  • Emphasis on role knowledge and social development
  • Teacher has dominant, active role in classroom activity; child is a passive participant in learning
  • Teacher acts as primary enforcer of external discipline
  • Instruction, both individual and group, conforms to the adult's teaching style
  • Same age grouping
  • Most teaching is done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged
  • Curriculum structured for child with little regard for child's interests
  • Child is guided to concepts by teacher
  • Child generally given specific time limit for work
  • Instruction pace usually set by group norm or teacher
  • If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher
  • Learning is reinforced externally by role repetition and rewards/discouragement
  • Fewer materials for sensory development and concrete manipulation
  • Less emphasis on self-care instruction and classroom maintenance
  • Child usually assigned own chair; encouraged to site still and listen during group sessions
  • Voluntary parent involvement, often only as fundraisers, not participants in understanding the learning process