Education, a term that has a wide spectrum. The definition of which keeps changing and keeps taking different shades and forms. Education is the journey and exploration of one’s inner self. Be it a Montessori form of education or traditional, the journey should lead to an external and internal self discipline in life.
What is Montessori Education?
A Montessori method of education is all about pragmatic and hands-on learning. It is a method coined and formulated by the physician Maria Montessori. Rather than using the traditional forms of education, it focuses on real life situations and self teaching material. The classroom learning involves physical exploration.
Montessori method of education is based on ‘self’, self initiated activity and collaborative play. Students and learners make creative choices and the learning experiences in their classroom as per their choice.The teacher in this method of education is a passive participant who oversees the entire working and guides the process. She/He uses age appropriate activities and her skill to hone the skills of her students.
In a Montessori environment, a student may or may not work in a group to collaborate with each other and develop the requisite skill. The classroom is child friendly and student centric. To uphold the Montessori methods and learning, The American Montessori Society was created to promote the use of montessori teaching approach in private and public schools.
A Montessori method promotes natural learning and instincts rather than formal teaching methods, be it younger or older children. Dr Montessori believed that a child learnt and grasped better if they chose what they wanted to learn. Using one’s natural instincts would always promote experiential learning inside and beyond the classroom.
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Difference Between Montessori and Traditional Education
The following are the differences between the two:
In a Montessori method, children teach themselves with their chosen project. They become self instructors of their classroom. Using the material prepared for a similar purpose, they indulge in the teaching and learning process. They follow their own individual pace and interest. A child is an active participant of the process.
In the traditional education system, children are taught by the teacher with an organized program. A set pattern of curriculum is laid out and the children are expected to follow the same path. The timelines and framework is already set and it is the same for everyone. Learning is limited, based on the subjects given. A syllabus is pre decided that children have to abide by in their classroom.
The ambience is extremely child friendly in case of a Montessori curriculum. The methods and the environment encourage internal self discipline and the child’s interest is of utmost importance. A montessori child is provided with a conducive environment and they liberally choose what to study and for how long. The Montessori classroom is extremely flexible and liberal.
Whereas in a traditional school, the environment is structured and confined and it doesn’t come with a self care instruction. Students have to follow a set pattern and stick to the syllabus. The environment is not that child friendly.
Montessori education programs do not believe in giving grades to children. They believe that grades and marks are not the benchmark for success or happiness. Rather they believe in the wholesome development of the child. A child should develop in all the spheres of life. Homework, testing and examination is seldom found. A Montessori classroom promotes freedom and individuality.
A traditional school follows the grading system based on examinations and continued assessment. That kind of a system is compulsory for all and students have to stick to it, no matter what.
A montessori curriculum does not have a set schedule or pattern. They move at their own pattern and pace of learning. They learn self discipline and responsibility. The activities conducted in a Montessori classroom for children are very exciting and engrossing. Each child gets a chance to indulge in individual as well as group activities. Montessori Education encourages flip teaching.
Whereas in a traditional preschool, a strict time table is prepared. Children have to stick to their desks and follow what is being taught in the class by the teacher. It encourages a teacher centric classroom.
The emphasis in a Montessori system is the ‘student’. The entire set up is student friendly and they are the center of the universe. The emphasis is also on hands-on learning and real world skills. The emphasis is on natural learning and describes children as eager recipients of education and knowledge.
Whereas a traditional school would lay emphasis on strict patterns and education set up. It concentrates more on long established customs and practices such as grades and examinations.
Interiors and Decor
The decorations of a Montessori setup are to the minimum. The painting and depiction on the wall is quite practical and are simply designed. Furnishings and designs are kept to the bare minimum. No fancy hangings or designs. The classrooms would have a soft lighting system.
Whereas in a traditional preschool, there are neatly arranged desks and chairs with fancy art work and board designs. Sometimes a single classroom may have more than one board design and those boards would be neatly done. A traditional school would have bright overhead lights for the learners.
A Montessori school stresses on building the emotional capabilities of its learners. It would stress on building relationships, instilling positivity and motivation. It propagates in instilling good qualities like kindness and empathy. EQ helps to understand emotions, reduce stress and improve performance anxiety.
On the other hand, with a traditional method, the stress is more or less on academics. That is the core principle of a traditional preschool. The entire curriculum is centered around academics with emphasis on examinations, grading, testing and assessment.
The social setting of a Montessori preschool encourages umpteen social development, encourages communication and provides a liberal atmosphere to the students for communication. The atmosphere is democratic. There are no structures. Children in a Montessori preschool work better in groups and have a great social interaction with one another.
Whereas in traditional preschools, the children may or may not socially mingle with one another. They will have fixed and allotted time slots to socialize with another and indulge in classroom activity. Since the day’s time table is already pre-decided, students may not get a liberal time slot to socialize in their preschool.
Maria Montessori understood and realized the importance of the outdoors and nature. For a child’s healthy and wholesome development, going outdoors is extremely important. A child learns and appreciates nature and works in tandem with it. That creates a harmonious environment for the students in a preschool. It facilitates hands-on learning and direct contact with the outside world. They appreciate plants, nature and animals.
With a traditional classroom, the outdoor activities or sports are dependent on the time table which has already been set. It is not a flexible feature of their preschool.
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What are the negatives of a Montessori School?
A Montessori method may come across as expensive to a lot of people. A lot of parents may not even have proper access to such kinds of school. Traditional schools are located at every nook and corner but a Montessori school and a Montessori teacher is rare to find.
Also, the curriculum of a Montessori Academy may be a bit too flexible and a student may waver, since there’s no proper structure. Sticking to a proper format and curriculum facilitates organized and disciplined learning for a preschool.
Is Montessori better than a traditional school?
To each parent, his own. Even though a Montessori school classroom has major advantages, some parents may still choose a traditional school, owing to its pre-designed curriculum and Montessori program.
A Montessori philosophy definitely propagates an individualistic learning pace and imparts more creativity and imagination. The preschool classroom is also far more interactive and conducive. Weighing all the pros and cons, a parent may decide which school is better for their child and whether or not they should hire a Montessori educator.
Do Montessori students do better generally?
As per a lot of surveys and research, it was inferred that Montessori preschool children generally do really well in life. In terms of their social, economic and emotional development, the children showed great signs and came across as well equipped to handle life.
They fostered higher levels of cognitive and functioning skills. They also displayed advanced logical reasoning and higher order thinking skills. The Montessori system has actually become a way of life and takes education beyond the four walls of the classrooms. It also inculcates joy, curiosity and inquisitiveness for learning. Success and happiness in life are all subjective terms. Destiny too has an important role, be it a Montessori or a traditional preschool.