Montessori vs. Conventional Education

material wmdMany parents ask us about the benefits of a Montessori education as compared to the education their child would receive at a conventional public school. At the most basic level, a child in a Montessori program will learn self-direction, cooperation and problem solving — and establish a strong and positive self-image along the way.

But let’s break down how that happens in a comparison between conventional and Montessori education. It all comes down to a matter of focus. What we pay attention to is what we become.

Montessori School Conventional School
Active learning: The child moves freely around the classroom, choosing her own work — and the pace at which she does it — while being guided by the teacher. Passive learning: The child listens to and follows directions from the teacher who sets the pace of instruction.
Concentration: Long work periods allow children to focus on deep learning. Completion: Tightly scheduled days value completion of teacher-directed work.
Cooperation: Mixed-age classrooms and self-directed learning encourage cooperation and the development of social skills. Competition: Individual learning graded by the teacher; collaboration and cooperation are secondary.
Self-discipline: The learning structure and prepared environment of the classroom promote motivation and self-discipline through freedom coupled with responsibility. Teacher-directed discipline: The teacher disciplines and encourages motivation using a system of external rewards and punishments.
Holistic development: Montessori education values the cognitive, social and psychological development of each child. Core competence: Conventional systems of education value teaching children to master defined skills and develop socially.

Are you a more visual person?
Watch this short, stop-motion video in which Trevor Eissler (Montessori Madness) makes what he calls a “parent-to-parent argument for Montessori education.” In it, he breaks down many of the differences between Montessori education and a conventional school. At about six minutes long, it’s a great overview for anyone new to Montessori.