Fundamental Differences Between Montessori and Traditional Education

Montessori Traditional
Respect for individual differences; Emphasis on conforming to the group;
Self-motivation and child centered learning process; Emphasis on grades, punishment or rewards as motivating factors;
Multi-age grouping whereby students learn “horizontally” from observation of other people’s work, directly or indirectly; Students grouped chronologically to suit teachers’ pre-planned class activities;
Students learn at their own pace, free to complete a project or pursue a subject as deeply as they wish and according to personal enthusiasm; Subjects are taught in lecture form and students must change activities and attend as a group all at the same time;
Students learn by practicing their subject matters in school with the supervision and assistance of the teacher as needed; Students must practice on their own and be graded on “busy work” or home work that is often done without close monitoring;
The classroom is designed for the gathering of information and knowledge: the children are free to move and tire less; Students work at assigned desks and passively sit and listen to lectures. The work period must be interrupted frequently;
Knowledge is acquired through the use of concrete materials, scientifically designed to enhance conceptual thinking and lead to abstraction; Knowledge often consists of memorization of irrelevant information from abstract concepts unrelated to the child’s daily experience, rather than from hands on work
Testing is built into the method as the third period of the “three period lesson” and is applied routinely when the individual is ready. Materials aim at self-correction, repetition and competence.  Scheduled testing does not take into consideration the preparation of each individual. Students are intimidated and taught that passing is more important than knowing.