Emphasis on cognitive structures and social development.

Teacher’s role is unobtrusive: child actively participates in learning.

Environment and method encourage internal self-discipline.

Individual and group instruction adapts to each student’s learning style.

Mixed-age grouping.

Children encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help each other.

Child chooses own work from interests, abilities.

Child formulates concepts from self-teaching materials.

Child works as long as s/he wants on chosen project.

Child sets own learning pace to internalize information.

Child spots own errors, through feedback from material.

Learning is reinforced internally through child’s own repetition of activity, internal feelings of success repetition.

Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration development.

Organized program for learning care of self and self-care of classroom environment.


Emphasis on rote knowledge and social development.

Teacher’s role is dominant, active: child is a passive participant.

Teacher is primary enforcer of external discipline.

Individual and group instruction conforms to adult’s teaching style.

Same-age grouping.

Most teaching done by teacher and
collaboration is discouraged.

Curriculum structured with little regard for child’s interests.

Child is guided to concepts by teacher.

Child usually given specific time for work.

Instruction pace set by group norm or teacher.

Errors corrected by teacher.

Learning is reinforced externally by rewards, discouragements.

Few materials for sensory, concrete manipulation.

Little emphasis on instruction or classroom maintenance.

Traditional vs. Montessori Education
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