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Montessori vs. Traditional


Listed below are the fundamental differences between the Montessori educational method and the traditional educational method. The most obvious differences include the age groups being mixed in the classroom and the support of each child as an individual to become an active seeker of knowledge.


  • Respect for individual differences
  • Self-motivation and child-centered learning process that promotes independence. There is no competition or rivalry within the classroom.
  • Multi-age grouping whereby students learn “horizontally” from observation of other people’s work, directly or indirectly.
  • Students learn at their own pace, free to complete a project or pursue a subject as deeply as they wish according to personal enthusiasm and desire to learn.
  • The classroom is used as a library or resource for projects and studies. The students are free to move around more and therefore tire less.
  • Students learn by practicing their subject matter while in school with the supervision and assistance of the teacher as needed.
  • Knowledge is acquired through the use of concrete materials, scientifically designed to enhance conceptual thinking and lead to abstraction.
  • Testing is built into the method as the third period of the “three-period lesson” and is applied routinely when the individual is ready. Testing aims at self-correction, repetition and competence.


  • Emphasis on conforming to the group
  • Emphasis on grades, punishment, or rewards as motivating factors.
  • Students are grouped chronologically to suit teachers’ pre-planned class lessons.
  • Subjects are taught in lecture form and must change classes and attend lessons at the same time.
  • Students work at desks and passively listen to lectures for long periods. The work period is interrupted frequently to move on as a group.
  • Students must practice on their own and be graded on “busy work” or homework that is often done without close monitoring.
  • Knowledge often consists of memorization or irrelevant information from abstract concepts unrelated to the child’s daily life.
  • Scheduled testing does not take into consideration the preparation of each individual child. Students are intimidated and taught that passing the test is more important than truly knowing the subject matter.