Founded by Italian physician and educator Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s, the Montessori program is inarguably one of the most criticized learning methods throughout the years.
Grounded on the principles and practices of the first Montessori institution which Dr. Maria Montessori called Casa dei Bambini, educators and experts on the Montessori method actively respond to the disadvantages and criticisms of Montessori education until today.
As a parent or guardian exploring options for your children’s early childhood education, you might be wondering….
Why is Montessori bad? That question does not have a clear-cut right or wrong response. Some of the most common criticisms of the Montessori approach are the lack of accessibility to good Montessori schools, the high cost of education, too loose and flexible curriculum, no tests, and a gradeless system, and children’s eventual adaptation to traditional tertiary schools.
The following is a list of all the must-know reasons that might answer the question why is Montessori bad or good for your children.
Five Reasons Why Montessori Method Is Bad (or perceived as bad)
There are 5 reasons that keep coming up as to why Montessori is bad, according people that we have spoken to.
- Lack of Accessibility to Good Montessori School
One of the most valid criticisms of the Montessori method of education is its accessibility to the public—or the lack thereof.
The most common dilemma is that some schools open their doors and bear the name “Montessori School” even without proper accreditation and training for the method.
Most often than not, these institutions use the title to advertise and attract interested parents to enroll their kids. This makes it difficult to find a good Montessori institution.
Without trained teachers and accreditation, the education of a student might be put at risk due to standards that are not being met and methods that are not being executed as they should be.
As a parent or guardian, it is important to educate yourself about the accreditation of the institution prior to signing up.
The school should be affiliated or associated with either the American Montessori Society (AMS) or the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) to ensure quality education for your children.
- High Cost of a Montessori School
In a report published in the Journal of Montessori Research on the 2022 Global Montessori Census, it was found that only 2,728 are included in the United States Montessori Census, and only 579 of these are publicly funded programs.
This implies that most Montessori preschools and high schools in the US are private institutions that may come at a high price.
Although the cost can vary per school, this poses inaccessibility to a diverse group of students since it is possible that others find this costly and only wealthy families may have access.
For instance, the Metropolitan Montessori School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan offers preschool Montessori education for $29,000 to $59,000. Compared to these, the Montessori schools in Flatiron and Soho in Manhattan charge a little over $40,000 a year. However, this number can change up and down depending on the area where the school is situated.
You might ask, “Why is the cost of a Montessori education high?”
Let us first understand that there is an insufficient student-to-teacher ratio in Montessori institutions. This means that the expense of paying the staff members who run the school is higher per pupil.
Second, the tools and equipment used in Montessori are costly. All ages require high-quality, long-lasting learning materials, which must be purchased and maintained.
Lastly, they do not receive government funding to cover the cost of day-to-day operations.
- Too Loose and Flexible Curriculum
Maria Montessori built this method around the principle that children will be naturally eager to understand certain concepts through hands-on learning.
However good this theory can be, it is inarguably eyebrow-raising to think how this will go with around 30 students of various ages in one classroom since, undeniably, children are active.
In practice, as the learning is decentralized and the Montessori teacher’s role is to be a facilitator and observer, this lack of direction and instruction can create a chaotic environment for many children.
Since students don’t receive concrete lessons and directives, Montessori classrooms can be very noisy, depending on their full-day activity.
This might be a big issue for many students with sensory issues, mental health disorder diagnoses, and different learning styles.
Further, a lot of people think that the Montessori principle’s framework and methodology are incredibly loose and flexible, and potentially, students may not take it seriously.
They might take advantage of the circumstance because there is no formal structure in place or they might simply treat it lightly and remain in their comfort zone.
It is safe to say that it is the prerogative of the observer to help each child progress in the classroom, especially for those who feel overwhelmed in classrooms with little to no supervision.
Although this is the case, a lot of successful people, such as Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates have thrived in the Montessori method of learning.
- No Tests and Gradeless System
Another criticism of the method is the lack of tests and the gradeless system. Although progress tracking exists in Montessori learning, there is no detailed structure to the curriculum compared to traditional schools.
As it puts forward a child-centered approach to learning, it also advances the concept of not having summative or periodic tests that track the progress of a kid’s learning and development, which results in a gradeless system.
The Montessori method of providing valuable insights into younger children’s abilities can comprehensively sum up their progress over time.
But, even though this is the case, most traditional schools still have the grading system in place.
With the lack of structured tests and a grading system, students who opt to transition from Montessori to traditional schools may have a hard time adjusting to the structure.
Students who do poorly on tests may also suffer from anxiety and low self-confidence.
Critics assert that because of the lack of examinations, grades, or assignments, kids are unprepared and anxious when they attend more conventional schools.
While some Montessori graduates surely had this experience, other kids who enrolled in more conventional schools after attending Montessori allegedly did so without any problems.
- Children’s Eventual Adaptation to Traditional Tertiary Schools
Let’s say you have succeeded in finding an accredited and good Montessori preschool for your child at a reasonable price that is well within your means.
The last criticism of the Montessori principle comes into play as soon as your child graduates high school and proceeds to college.
Since Montessori is primarily focused on primary and secondary education, your child is still bound to attend traditional public schools or private institutions for college.
This is due to the fact that a Montessori college does not exist.
For a child who has gotten used to center-led learning, the transition to a more structured and centralized mode of learning can pose changes to their routine, which for some, can be far too much.
The strict routines, deadlines, and overall structure of a conventional institution may pose adjustment problems for the child.
Despite some misconceptions about why Montessori is bad, Montessori education actually offers numerous positive benefits for children, such as fostering independence, encouraging hands-on learning, and providing a supportive and engaging environment that promotes a love for learning.
Even the negative experiences of parents and cargivers we have spoken to, usually tend to be about accessibility issues, cost and not about Montessori education.
In fact, according to various research studies, Montessori students outperform their peers in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, and Science by up to 30%.
Is There a Good Side to Montessori School?
The concept of the Montessori is extremely different from the typical classroom setup.
They are best known for their self-directed activities or work periods and self-education.
Since it follows a child-centered approach, the activity allows the children to learn at their individual pace and get to choose their own activity.
You might be wondering how Montessori is different and how this can be an option for your younger children’s learning.
Below are some of the reasons why Montessori learning is good for your child.
- Child-centered Learning
The role of the child in the institutions is of great importance. Children are given opportunities to work intelligently on their own with the activities that interest them the most. They can concentrate on spelling if that’s what they wish to do or play with numbers if that is their preference.
According to Montessori, children should be able to decide what they want to do, and then the teachers will follow.
The key is to view children as naturally curious beings.
This is an advantage of a Montessori environment; it has a far more flexible curriculum than traditional classrooms which allows the children to explore the world on their own in an environment that is supportive and open.
- Montessori Teachers Facilitate the Students for a Longer Period of Time
Unlike regular schools, where children progress with those who are the same or close to their age, Montessori kids of varying ages have the same teacher for three years.
This allows the teacher to carefully and holistically analyze and observe how the child is learning for a longer period of time.
Older children are encouraged to assist younger children with the content and activities. While adults explore ideas and concepts through theories, younger children play to learn them hands-on.
- Promoting Independence and Self-Discipline
Montessori believed that children are naturally eager for knowledge. That is why, the child’s learning is completely up to them.
They are given the opportunity to discover activities they find interesting and learn at their own pace.
Since they are exposed to actual learning, they are more likely to learn independently as they grow old.
It is also a helpful method for the children to learn more about what they like and don’t like.
This allows children to have agency over what they want to pursue as they grow older.
Further, the method is designed to help the children develop a sense of self-discipline.
Since they are given a lot of freedom to choose an activity they like, it becomes imperative for them to control their emotions and respond reasonably to situations such as failure.
This builds discipline within a child driven by both internal and external motivators.
- Learning Becomes Fun
Since learning is centered around the interests of the children, the lessons are not a burden for them.
They are provided with a reasonable period of time to hone their skills and interests in their own way.
According to Dr. Montessori, children learn best when their senses are stimulated.
If the kid’s senses are stimulated, they will begin to become interested in a variety of activities.
This makes the Montessori style simple, entertaining, and joyful.
- Room For Emotions
In contrast to a regular school, the Montessori classroom encourages children to express their emotions.
Relationship building, self-motivation, empathy, self-awareness, and emotional regulation are the four main components.
The core of a Montessori pedagogy and its educational philosophy is to build on the younger children’s “emotional quotient” through modelling actual feelings, teaching coping methods, and demonstrating empathy, among other things.
Montessori Criticism and Criticism of Montessori Method
The Montessori method, like any educational approach, is not exempt from criticism. However, it is important to examine these criticisms in perspective and understand why they may be misplaced. One common Montessori criticism is that the Montessori method lacks structure and discipline, with concerns that children may have too much freedom and not enough guidance.
In reality, the Montessori method emphasizes freedom within limits, providing a carefully prepared environment where children can explore and learn at their own pace while still adhering to a set of guidelines.
Another criticism is that the Montessori approach does not prioritize academic rigor and may not adequately prepare children for traditional schooling. On the contrary, Montessori education fosters a love for learning and encourages children to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-motivation, which are foundational skills for academic success.
Furthermore, some critics argue that the Montessori method is too focused on individualism and may not sufficiently address socialization and collaboration. Truth be told, Montessori classrooms promote social interactions through mixed-age groupings, peer learning, and cooperative activities, allowing children to develop essential social skills while respecting each other’s individuality.
When we look into all that Montessori education offers it’s easy to recognise that the criticisms don’t truly represent the full and well-rounded approach of Montessori education.
Criticism of Montessori Schools (Why Montessori Schools are Bad)
So why are Montessori schools bad and what are the criticisms of Montessori schools? Montessori schools have faced certain criticisms over the years, but it is important to understand that many of these criticisms are misplaced and stem from misconceptions about the Montessori philosophy and approach to education.
One common criticism is that Montessori schools lack structure and academic rigor. However, this criticism disregards the carefully designed Montessori curriculum, which provides a structured progression of learning experiences tailored to each child’s developmental stage.
Another critique is that Montessori classrooms are too relaxed and lack discipline. On the contrary, Montessori classrooms promote self-discipline and independence through the establishment of clear boundaries and expectations.
Additionally, some argue that Montessori schools do not adequately prepare children for standardized testing. However, the Montessori approach focuses on holistic development, nurturing critical thinking, problem-solving, and a love for learning rather than rote memorization and test preparation.
Overall, it is essential to recognize that the criticisms aimed at Montessori schools often overlook the well-rounded educational experience and lifelong skills that Montessori education fosters.
So we’ve learned that why Montessori is bad isn’t always related to the actual methods of Montessori education and based on experience and studies, Montessori isn’t really bad. It’s crucial to remember that not every child or family will benefit from this method, even if this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The lack of accessibility to Montessori schools as well as the high cost of tuition can be a hurdle for a lot of families, but they are not necessarily a hindrance. In fact, compared to most private schools in the US, Montessori schools offer far lower tuition fees.
The second plane of criticism for Montessori schools is the loose and flexible pedagogy; however, experiential, child-centered, and self-guided education is not for everyone. Education is not a one-size-fits-all matter.
As opposed to being the nightmare that the skeptics would have you believe, the lack of a standardized curriculum, typical testing and grading, and homework is not entirely a bad thing.
If the majority of Montessori students encountered major problems in transferring to traditional colleges that conduct exams and other objective assessments, it would be widely opposed immediately.
However, the majority of Montessori pupils are able to effectively transition to normal schools despite the absence of traditional measures of success and failure.
To say that Montessori school is bad just because they are not the best option for everyone is a hasty generalization.
However, the outcomes can be excellent for people for whom the learning paradigm is appropriate.
When kids can learn on their own and are motivated, Montessori learning is most effective.
What kind of child thrives in Montessori? It is important to note that not all children can thrive in Montessori schools. Children with learning disabilities, those who learn better through hands-on experience, and those who enjoy liberation and freedom can definitely thrive in Montessori schools. However, it can be tough for students who are accustomed to having teachers lead them through every stage of the process.
Do Montessori students do better in life?Although there is no proven research that supports the idea that Montessori education is better than any other method, students who attend Montessori schools are most likely to have a higher interest in learning, be more self-disciplined, and be more independent.
Does Montessori do homework? The majority of Montessori schools exclude homework from their programs. It’s a teaching strategy that advocates giving students the freedom to engage in any extracurricular activities they see fit.