The basic philosophy in Montessori education is that all children carry within themselves the person they will become. In order to develop physical, intellectual, and spiritual potential to the fullest, the child must have freedom -- freedom achieved through order and self-discipline. Dr. Montessori developed what she called the "prepared environment," which possesses a certain ingrained order that allows children to learn at their own speed, according to their own capacities, and in a non-competitive atmosphere. Dr. Montessori recognized that the only impulse to learn is self-motivation. The teacher prepares the environment, introduces the activity and offers stimulation, but it is the child who learns and is motivated through work itself. Montessori children are "free" to learn because they have acquired inner discipline from their exposure to both physical and mental order. Patterns of concentration, stick-to-it-iveness and thoroughness, established in early childhood, produce a confident, competent learner in later years.
-- United Montessori Association Parent Handbook
What are the differences between Montessori education and traditional education?
No one way is necessarily better than any other. Ultimately, education is about your child and your preference as a parent.
Active, individual learning through stimulation and multi-sensory teaching materials.
Passive, class-learning through teacher-centered class lessons and paperwork.
Non-graded class in a "natural" social environment that includes a wide range of ages and fosters self motivation. Students enjoy working for their own sense of accomplishment.
Chronological grouping necessitates external rewards such as grades, competition, and social conformity.
Freedom of choice involves decision making. Students select their work according to individual interests.
Class curriculum demands that students cover the same work at the same time with no regard to individual interests.
Working at one's own pace enables students to work for long periods without interruption. Each individual works at his potential, independent of the class.
Group learning involves each academic subject being scheduled for a limited period. Each student is directly affected by the progress of the whole class.
Integral education balances academic work with freedom of movement, and harmony is created between physical, social and mental activities. There is an interrelationship between subjects.
Fragmented education provides academic subjects that are not interrelated. Periods of intense mental effort are alternated with periods of vigorous physical activity to release tension.
Independence is fostered by a classroom that is specifically designed to encourage maximum development.
Dependence is promoted since activities are initiated by the teacher.
Self-evaluation occurs when students learn to evaluate their work objectively through the use of self-correcting teaching materials and individual work with the teacher.
Class comparison occurs as work is evaluated and graded by the teacher. Students evaluate themselves against the group as "best" and "worst" in the class.
Reality-oriented education maintains concrete, first-hand experience as the basis for abstraction.
Abstract education has students learning through mechanical memorization.
Close student-teacher interaction enables complete and precise evaluation of student's progress, both academically and psychologically.
Class-oriented teaching prevents close interaction between individual students and teacher.
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