Montessori vs. Waldorf Private Schools

Because Waldorf and Montessori are the two most commonly found non-sectarian private schools, many people have the misconception that they are pretty much the same. It is true that Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf schools, and Maria Montessori, the founder of Montessori schools, shared some ideas in common, yet the classroom experience is very different.

Here is a comparison between Waldorf and Montessori, written by someone who has been a teacher in both systems. I will note that this is only one person’s opinion, and there are certainly diverging viewpoints. In addition, I have read that Montessori schools vary considerably from one to the next, while Waldorf schools tend to stick more closely to the founder’s (Steiner’s) philosophy.

It’s worth reading in full; however, I’ll offer just one point that stood out to me. According to this author, both Waldorf and Montessori recognize that a young child’s mind naturally tends to be imaginative, and does not comprehend reality well. However, their response to this is opposite. Waldorf works with a child’s strength, and encourages imaginative play for young children. In contrast, Montessori discourages a child from using her imagination until after she is fully grounded in reality. Of course, each teacher makes his own interpretation of the philosophy he is drawing from, and individual schools might emphasize different aspects of their founder’s philosophy.

Here is another article (PDF) comparing the two approaches, which I would say is much more complimentary to Montessori than the first article. Here is yet another.

I don’t endorse any of the above views, but suggest they may be a part of your own inquiry.

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