Montessori vs traditional

By: American Montessori Society (AMS)

The American Montessori Society (AMS) is a nonprofit education society founded in 1960 whose purpose is to help children develop their potential through the educational principles of Dr. Maria Montessori. This includes the following: developing Montessori programs, accrediting schools, granting credentials, encouraging research, organising seminars and symposia, and promoting all other areas which relate to the dissemination of Montessori philosophy.

Montessori children are unusually adaptable. They have learned to work independently and in groups. Since they've been encouraged to make decisions from an early age, these children are problem-solvers who can make appropriate choices and manage their time well. Encouraged to exchange ideas, discuss their work freely with others, such students' good communication skills ease the way in new settings. Research has shown that the best predictor of future success is a positive sense of self-esteem. Montessori programs, based on self-directed, noncompetitive activities, help children develop strong self-images and the confidence to face challenges and change with optimism.

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  1. Emphasis on cognitive structures and social development
  2. Teacher's role is unobtrusive; child actively participates in learning
  3. Environment and method encourage internal self-discipline
  4. Individual and group instruction adapts to each student's learning style
  5. Mixed age grouping
  6. Children encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help each other
  7. Child chooses own work from interests, abilities
  8. Child formulates concepts from self-teaching materials
  9. Child works as long as s/he wants on chosen project
  10. Child sets own learning pace to internalise information
  11. Child spots own errors through feedback from material
  12. Learning is reinforced internally through child's own repetition of activity, internal feelings of success repetition
  13. Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration development
  14. Organised program for learning care of self and self-care environment (shoe polishing, sink washing, etc.)
  15. Child can work where s/he is comfortable, moves and talks at will (yet doesn't disturb others); group work is voluntary and negotiable
  16. Organised program for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process


  1. Emphasis on rote knowledge and social development
  2. Teacher's role is dominant, active; child is a passive participant
  3. Teacher is primary enforcer of external discipline
  4. Individual and group instruction conforms to the adult's teaching style
  5. Same age grouping
  6. Most teaching done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged
  7. Curriculum structured with little regard for child's interests
  8. Child is guided to concepts by teacher
  9. Child usually given specific time for work
  10. Instruction pace set by group norm or teacher
  11. Errors corrected by teacher
  12. Learning is reinforced externally by rewards, discouragements
  13. Few materials for sensory, concrete manipulation
  14. Little emphasis on instruction or classroom maintenance
  15. Child assigned seat; encouraged to sit still and listen during group sessions
  16. Voluntary parent involvement, often only as fundraisers, not participants in understanding the learning process