Ten BIG differences between Montessori and traditional education

(Updated March 6, 2017)

NOTE: The Grosse Pointe Academy hosts its 2017 Art Show and Admission Open House on Wednesday, March 8, between 6 and 8 p.m.)

In a blog published in 2015 by Age of Montessori, the “big” differences between Montessori and traditional pedagogies are spelled out in ten main bullet points. Acknowledging that the list probably could include more than 100 differences, it is perhaps still useful to highlight the major ones.

Based in Bozeman, Montana, Age of Montessori is a private organization that trains and certifies Montessori teachers online and in-person, as well as educates parents on the many aspects of early childhood education.

The Grosse Pointe Academy offers the longest continuously operating Montessori program in the state of Michigan.


Ten BIG Differences between Montessori and Traditional Education

What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?

By Emilyj, ageofmontessori.org

If you are new to Montessori education, often the first question you might ask is “what makes Montessori different?” Truly, the answer to that question is immense! So, in an effort to make this bountiful banquet of information a little more digestible, I have organized some of the key concepts into these ten BIG differences:

1. The Prepared Environment: Montessori classrooms are prepared in advance based on observations of the Montessori students’ individual needs. They include student-centered lessons and activities. Traditional classrooms are based on teacher-centered lessons or activities.

2. Active vs. Passive: Montessori lessons are hands-on and active. Students discover information for themselves. Traditional school lessons are often orated to students who listen passively, memorize and take tests.

3. Give ‘Em Time: In the Montessori classroom, children work on lessons as long as need be, and interruptions are avoided whenever possible. Time limitations are mandated by arbitrary schedules in traditional classrooms.

4. The Teachers’ Role: Montessori teachers act as guides and consultants to students on a one-on-one basis. They assist each child along his or her own learning path. Traditionally, the pace and order of each lesson is predetermined. The teacher must deliver the same lesson, at the same pace, in the same order, for all of the students.

5. Age Groups and Grade-levels: In Montessori schools, “grade-levels” are flexible and determined by the child’s developmental range, i.e., 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, and 15-18 years of age. In traditional schools, grade levels are not flexible and strictly defined by chronological age within a twelve-month period.

6. Adaptable Curricula: Montessori curricula expand in response to the students’ needs. Traditional curricula are predetermined without regard to student needs.


7. Pace Yourself: The individual child’s work pace is honored and encouraged in the Montessori classroom. Traditional classrooms expect all children to work at the same pace.

8. Self-Made Self-Esteem: Montessorians understand that the child’s self-esteem comes from an internal sense of pride in his or her own accomplishments. In traditional classrooms, self-esteem is thought to come from external judgement and validation.

9. For the Love of Learning: Montessori curricula are intended to appeal to the child’s innate hunger for knowledge. Children learn to love learning. Traditional curricula focus on standardized test performance and grades. Children learn because it is mandatory.

10. Change is Good: The Montessori Method was created by Maria Montessori and is based on a lifetime of study and observation with regard to the way children really learn. Traditional education is based on. . .well. . .tradition.

If you are interested in learning more about Montessori education and the Academy’s Early School program, click here.


About The Grosse Pointe Academy
The Grosse Pointe Academy is an independent, coeducational day school serving children age 2 1/2 through Grade 8. We foster an inclusive environment that respects all cultures and religious beliefs. We seek to remain faithful to our heritage as a former Academy of the Sacred Heart and to those who through their Catholic faith and perseverance sought to preserve and enhance the legacy of this past for generations. Incorporated as a non-profit institution, The Grosse Pointe Academy is directed by a Board of Trustees working together to serve the Southeastern Michigan community.