Comparing Traditional and Montessori Education

Comparing Montessori and traditional public education

Maria Montessori


• Emphasis on: cognitive and social development
• Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom
• Environment and method encourage self-discipline
• Mainly individual instruction
• Mixed age grouping
• Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other
• Child chooses work
• Child discovers own concepts from self-teaching tasks
• Child sets own learning pace
• Child spots own errors through feedback from material
• Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success
• Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration
• Children can work where they chose, move around and talk at will (yet not disturb work of others); group work is voluntary and negotiable
• Organized programs for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process


• Emphasis on: social development
• Teacher is center of classroom
• Teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline
• Group and individual instruction
• Same age grouping
• Most teaching done by teacher
• Curriculum structured for child
• Child guided to concepts by teacher
• Instruction pace usually set by group norm
• If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher
• Learning is reinforced externally by rewards and discouragement
• Few materials for sensory development
• Less emphasis on self-care instruction
• Child assigned own seat; encouraged to participate, sit still and listen during group sessions
• Voluntary parent involvement, often only as fundraisers, not participants in understanding/participating in the learning process