There are many differences between a typical Montessori learning environment and a traditional school setting.  The following chart with information from AMS shows a brief summary of these differences.


Montessori Learning Environment

Traditional School Setting

Child is a partner in learning

Child relies on teacher for direction

Assessment is for instructional decision-making

Assessment is primarily for classification

Classroom centers on individual and cooperative tasks

Classroom focuses on individual tasks

Emphasis on cognitive structures

Emphasis on root knowledge

Children are encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help one another

Teaching done by teacher

Many solutions can be found

One answer is right

Questions are valued

Answers are valued

Emphasis on problem-solving and thinking

Emphasis on verbal information

Method and Environment encourage self-discipline

Teacher is primary enforcer of external discipline

Child takes part in own learning

Child is recipient of knowledge

Play is a condition of learning

Work and play are divided

Groups are developed by interest and motivation

Grouping is by ability and age

Child works until chosen project is completed

Children have specific time limit for work

Three-year range per class

One age per class

Abundance of hands-on material that teach the children the "whys" behind the facts

Use of textbooks/workbooks that state facts