How Does the Montessori Curriculum Differ From Traditional Schools?
Mar 26, 2010 Teaching Methodology 5969 Views
Many parents who come to visit a Montessori Academy say that there is just no comparison to other, traditional schools they have visited. We believe that starting your child off in the Montessori environment will have a lifelong impact on your child.
Let's look at the core differences between the Montessori learning environment and a traditional school setting:
The first thing you may notice upon walking into a Montessori classroom is that the children are not seated at desks. Movement is a key component of the Montessori environment: Children work individually and cooperatively on a variety of lessons, and are encouraged to actively explore the classroom. In a traditional school, the children are passive, sitting for hours listening to a teacher. Montessori children are partners in learning; they are encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help one another.
The three year age range per class allows for special bonds to be formed between the children and their teachers. The younger friends look up to the older friends, learn from them, and dream of the day that they will be the leaders. The older friends model appropriate classroom behavior and the younger friends emulate them. To the casual observer, the Montessori environment may seem unstructured; however, the classroom is comprised of students who are working on highly individualized lessons.
The long-term friendships that are formed in the Montessori environment lead to supportive, collaborative, and trusting relationships. Cliques and bullying, which are the norm in traditional schools, are unheard of in the Montessori environment. Grace, courtesy, and conflict resolution are daily parts of the peaceful Montessori curriculum.
A key difference between Montessori and traditional schooling is in the way the teaching staff views the students: Montessori students are viewed holistically, with their cognitive, social, psychological and spiritual development taken into consideration on a daily basis. The teachers truly know each student and recognize and value the individual personalities and gifts that each student has.
Teachers' main concerns in a traditional school are managing bad behavior and ensuring that their students pass the FCAT. Teachers are disciplinarians, and yelling is common. In the Montessori environment, every student is treated with respect. Quiet voices ensure that no one's work and learning is disrupted.
In a traditional school, all students are expected to adapt to one core curriculum. The teachers' goals are ensuring that the students are passing standardized tests such as the FCAT, completing assignments on time, and finishing tightly scheduled lesson plans, all while sitting quietly in their seats. Learning is reinforced externally by competition, test scores, and grades. In contrast, Montessori students learn at their own pace, and learning is reinforced internally by the child's repetition of work, and the joy they find in successfully completing their work. They may find many solutions to a task rather than the one correct answer that is found in a traditional school setting.
Overall, the main way in which Montessori children differ from traditional students is that Montessori children love to learn. They do not memorize facts and figures for the purposes of passing a test or pleasing adults. It is that passionate love for learning which separates Montessori students from traditional students, and leads them to succeed in life.