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We cannot have Montessori Philosophy and Classical Education at the same time. The end of one is totally different to the end of other. Maria Montessori believed that children belongs to the society and not to the parents. Her education goal was to form children for the work-force helping the socialism ideology as you can read on her own book. She also did not believe in sin, that's the reason for not allowing discipline in her method. What most people get fascinated about Montessori method are the hands-on and motor skills activities which were not created by her. She saw this approach in USA at a school for children with disabilities and brought back to Italy.

Leo Perez

Classical and Montessori are completely different philosophies. In Montessori, children have "freedom within limits" and are allowed to explore different "works" and take different "lessons" that they later decide to either work on or not and do it for as long as they want. Teachers are there to encourage and guide. Their philosophy believes in waiting for the student to be ready for the different lessons and they don't all follow the same curriculum at the same time (they don't all learn math, reading, writing at the same time and same pace). In Classical, repetition and "excellent practice" is developed. Children are also respected and met at their current level but it's believed to they should catch up and be at the same level eventually. There's a fixed curriculum and there's not much choice within that. While this may seem lacking freedom, it's also important to note that excellence is achieved by perfect practice and not just random tries. As a fellow parent trying to navigate what's best for my child, me and my wife are struggling with the decision on what's best for our boy.

Gary Houchens

Leo, I really appreciate your thoughtful comment here. You are right that Montessori and classical education are different in significant ways. But I think there's more compatibility here than meets the eye. For example, I think the Montessori curriculum is a lot more specific than people sometimes realize (though perhaps not as comprehensive as classical tends to be), and while children move at their own pace in Montessori, I think there's an implicit assumption that most children will eventually master a specific body of knowledge and skills. So I think it's possible to substitute the classical curriculum for the Montessori curriculum but still utilize features of Montessori like student choice, long work times, and flexible pacing. At any rate, I'd love to see more experiments in this approach, both in homeschool and traditional school settings.

Cristina Ballard

Nanda, what you have expressed is a huge misunderstanding of Montessori's work and philosophy.
Maria Montessori believed that children belong to society and not their parents, absolutely. She said this within a specific context relating to the fact that parents sometimes feel that they must make choices for the child that will fit the parents needs, and rather, parents should recognize that a child will become a man and be a great agent of change,progress, and peace in the world.
She believed strongly that children at the time, in schools where they are taught in a passive manner, where all children have to do one-size fits all activities, that they were treated as if they would only be part of a work force, some factory line work. She criticized this heavily,rather preferring that children play an active, critical role in their education.
Discipline, in fact, plays a great role in Montessori education, from the earliest in life, children begin making choices, with in limits which are natural, logic,and respect the environment, the community, the child, and their peers, so the child very soo. Begins to develop self-discipline, not because of reprimands and arbitrary consequences, but the child because it is good, good for themselves, good for others, good for all.
As far as academics - of course there needs to be a great standard at which we hold the children who will be the men and women of the next generation, there is nothing lacking in montessori as far as all the great disciplines go. The choices the child has are more about pace and focus. So you want to study math before reading? Ok but then you have to finish your book and report by this date. Freedom within LIMITS. You must study this one subject and relate it to the math concepts you studied last month- you can Choose how you go about it, this is your due date, we will have a meeting about your progress next week.


I would love to see how your thinking on this has progressed in the time since you wrote this post. Are there any further posts you can link to?

Gary Houchens

Great question! I need to write about this as I believe my thinking has indeed evolved. I'll try to update with some links or write something fresh when I can!

Kayla Rae Stewart

You should check out the Optima Classical Academy, based in Florida. They are the first VR school, offering classes with live teachers and classmates for four hours a day, four days a week, with three 25-30 minute breaks during those four hours. After lunch, from 1-3 scholars have asynchronous learning. Friday's are also reserved for asynchronous learning. I believe this may be a great blend between Mont. and Class. education. It's self-paced when not in VR! They also will have workbooks. To me it's like homeschooling meets the future. Classical meets Montesssori. Classical meets Unschooling even! I would check out their website and look around... They also have a YouTube channel with many videos explaining things in-depth. I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Gary Houchens

I will check it out!

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