Traditional vs. Montessori Education

Category: Term Paper


Education has always been the most efficient tool for success in the modern world. Due to it, people become professionals in various spheres, and it also provides means for prosperity. People acquire knowledge in order to lighten challenges they face in everyday life. The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast Traditional and Montessori Education. While some similarities between these two types of education are evident, the differences are striking.

Parents have to study school approaches carefully if they want children to enroll in schools that meet their needs. Today, they can choose between Traditional and Montessori educational processes. Maria Montessori, an Italian educator developed the Montessori system of education. She formed the first school in 1907 for children from poor families and mentally challenged ones (Lillard 16). She created resources to promote independent learning comprising mental, physical, and social aspects (Walkup 31). Montessori’s approach concentrates on the child’s development. Maria Montessori believed that children will have a good behavior and knowledge if they have some freedom. She created programs that engage both hands and mind of the child. In the past twenty years, science had proven that she accurately described the learning needs of children (Shmidt, Shmidt & Kruse 85).


Montessori school aims at making students independent and self-motivated. Children of different ages study together, and older students motivate and help younger ones. They study at their pace according to their interests. In contrast to traditional schools, teacher remains in the background and only acts as a guide. During the lesson, teachers can assist and give students advises (Lillard 80). In traditional schools, children work as one team at the same pace. As compared to Montessori schools, in traditional ones, children of one age study at the same group. All students in the classroom study the same learning material. Throughout the lesson, teacher gives instructions to children and creates the working process. Children need to be controllable in this school (Lillard 80). Hence, the main difference between these two schools is that children are fully dependent on the teacher in a traditional one.

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There are practically no restrictions in Montessori schools. In comparison with traditional education, Montessori students decide how long to work on a task. Children are always active, they can talk to each other and move across the classroom (Walkup 32). They usually work at the table or rug (Shmidt et al. 46). Children study according to the schedule, and teacher interrupts work by allowing students to have a rest. As compared to Montessori schools, the traditional approach implies that students stay passive and quiet at their desks. The teacher performs an active role in the learning process (Walkup 32). Maria Montessori believed that children will show better results if teacher encourages them to be independent. She should give them freedom of speech and movement.

There are rows of desks facing the front of the classroom in the traditional schools. Students should stay at their desks during the learning process (Lillard 20). However, there are different areas in Montessori classrooms. Each of them has materials, educational objects for learning Art, Music, Mathematics, Language, and Science. In contrast to traditional education, school process is not derived from texts only. The tool for studying in Montessori schools is hands-on material. Dr. Montessori stated that in order to develop individuality, a child needs to concentrate. Thus, concentration comes from their hands (Lillard 20). In comparison with traditional schools, extra material is kept in specially designed closets in Montessori schools. It has its place on the shelves, and the child has to put it neatly back after use (Lillard 20).

Curriculum and learning materials are also different in these schools. In a traditional school, students study the course as separate topics. Materials for education are designed and appointed by schools themselves. They are structured according to standard learning program (Lillard 235). Whereas, according to Montessori approach, curriculum is multi-disciplinary and unified. In these schools, materials are internationally designed. Children can choose the material to work with, according to their interest and abilities (Lillard 235).

Another difference resides in the assessment of students. Traditional schools conduct reward and punishment through grades. In contrast to the traditional program, children are not competitive and have no grades in Montessori school. They are self-motivated for independent development. They are encouraged to develop higher levels of thinking, contrast, comparison, evaluation, judgment, and solving problems. They apply these methods to different situations (Lillard 28).

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The types of these two schools are also different. Traditional schools have a model of a factory. Elwood Cubberly, the dean of Stanford University’s School of Education said that schools are factories where children are just raw material fashioned to meet the demands of life (Lillard 7). Montessori approach has the form of a university research laboratory. As well as researchers, children choose what to learn and what is interesting to them (Lillard 29). Dr. Montessori states that children show positive results if they are interested in what they are learning.

In traditional schools, children rarely learn from each other. The teacher gives an information or material to learn from (Lillard 31). However, in Montessori schools, children rarely work alone. They create products such as plays, charts, musical performances. Unfortunately, children in a traditional school do not understand how they can apply the information beyond school tests. Dr. Montessori states that rather than studying from texts, children should study by doing something themselves.


Education plays a primary role in the contemporary life of society. It has only a positive impact on person’s life. It gives an opportunity to earn respect and recognition. On the whole, Traditional as well as Montessori schools have the same aim to educate children. Even though some methods of education in these schools are not perfect, government can try to improve the learning process. All things considered, these two educational approaches are different. Montessori’s primary goal is to form love to studying. Traditional schools reinforce learning by repetition, rewards or punishment. Hence, children who study in Montessori schools have an internal feeling of success. Eventually, they are happy, fulfilled, creative, and independent.