The Montessori classroom uses concrete materials that are self-correcting and allow the children to learn at their own pace. These materials help the child to see, touch, feel and freely explore their environments without the teacher’s intervention. The Montessori teacher provides individual instruction within set guidelines. The children learn self respect, respect for others and respect for their environment. Montessori methods and materials promote an inner discipline and self-motivation.
The main focus of a Montessori teacher is to guide the child by providing a well-prepared environment. This environment fosters the creativity and the curiosity of the child and also bolsters the child’s self-esteem. The child is able to learn independently and with the help of his peers and teacher. Children receiving Montessori instruction excel academically and socially with the confidence they need to reach their fullest potential.
What are some of the faults of traditional education as viewed by Montessori? To name a few: restriction of child’s activity, suppression of his spontaneity, use of external rewards and punishments, frequent interruptions, verbal “pouring-in” approach and inadequate teacher training. Says Montessori: “The educational methods now in use proceed on lines exactly the reverse of ours.”
The goal of both Montessori and traditional schools are the same: to provide learning experiences for the child. The biggest differences lie in the kinds of learning experiences each school provides and the methods they use to accomplish this goal. Montessori educators believe both differences are important because they help shape what children learn, their work patterns and their future attitudes toward themselves and the world around them.
|emphasis on cognitive development||emphasis on social development|
|teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom||teacher is center of classroom as “controller”|
|environment and method encourage self-discipline||teacher acts as primary enforcer of discipline|
|mainly individual instruction; mixed age grouping||mainly group instruction; same age grouping|
|grouping encourages children to teach and help each other||most teaching done by teacher|
|child chooses own work||curriculum structured for child|
|child discovers own concepts from self-teaching materials||child is guided to concepts by teachers|
|child works as long as he wishes on chosen project||child generally allotted specific time for work|
|child sets own learning pace||instruction pace usually set by group norm|
|child spots own errors from feedback of material||if work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher|
|child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success||learning is reinforced externally by repetition, rewards, and punishment|
|multi-sensory materials for physical exploration||few materials for sensory development|
|organized program for learning care of self and environment (polish shoes, sink)||no organized program for self-care instruction-left primarily to parents|
|child works where chooses, moves around and talks at will (not disturbing others)||child usually assigned own chair; required to participate, sit still and listen during group lessons|