Educational Philosophies

A Comparison between Alternative Educational Philosophies- the Montessori vs. Waldorf Education

You have to admit that if you have never really gone into the details of Montessori and its educational system, you will have no clue of what it is and how it can help your child. Although Montessori education is the most-followed form of education for toddlers today, even the best Montessori schools in Atlanta incorporate some aspects of Waldorf teachings into their system. In case you are wondering, Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner were the pioneers of the Montessori system we know today.

However, continue reading below to learn about some of the key similarities and differences in their philosophies.

Comparing Alternative Educational Philosophies

The famous Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner was an esotericist and social reformer whose main interest was in the synthesis between mysticism and science. Just like Montessori, he took a humanistic approach towards education to educate not just the mind, but also the soul, spirit, body as well as holding the belief that emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and social abilities are interlinked.

He developed his first school to serve children of working families back in the year 1919, but today, his method of education remains intact and renowned as Waldorf. There remains a similarity between Montessori and Steiner’s system, they both:

  • Emphasize the development of the child as a whole
  • Believe in the importance of childhood and being able to protect a child from the stress adults face
  • They based their educational systems around the needs of children, not the governmental curriculum
  • Believe children who are exposed to natural objects and the natural world learn easily.

The good thing about this approach is that it helps to build children to become better and smarter individuals. Good schools like Milton Montessori today try their best to incorporate these two teachings in classrooms. However, you should know that there are some fundamental differences between the Waldorf and Montessori education.

Montessori’s Education System

  • Language and math are two subjects that are introduced to a child when they are ready, between ages 3-4.
  • Children need to prefer real objects that fulfill a particular purpose
  • Classrooms are multi-aged and grouped according to a three-year age grouping
  • In reality, if children cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy, they need to be grounded
  • The Montessori materials are scientific materials that serve the unique academic and developmental purpose
  • Activities and lessons need to be individualized in the early years
  • Children can choose their work
  • Children remain with the same teacher for at least three years.

Waldorf Education System

  • Play and learning should go hand in hand. At an early age, the focus remains on fantasy and arts.
  • This education system needs to be introduced to a child around seven years of age.
  • Throughout the curriculum, play and fantasy are woven together.
  • Children should be encouraged to use their imagination with the materials in the classroom.
  • Early learning means group work.
  • For 6 years, the children should remain with the same teacher.
  • In a classroom, groups remain in the same age.

Although Waldorf education system encourages imaginative play at a very early age, Maria Montessori believed that all the toys and materials need to be used purposely to teach a child about concepts. Her educational system is quite popular today and it encourages children to use their imagination through the introduction of meaningful things. According to her teachings, the true basis of imagination is within reality.

Today, the best schools introduce the Montessori education system, and if you enroll your child into one, rest assured that it comes with long-term benefits!

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