Libérer le potentiel de l'éducation Montessori

Montessori pedagogy: what results?

Montessori pedagogy has many differences with the classical school system in terms of methods, practices, presentation, objectives and guiding principles. Some families favor it because it is known to get better results.

What do we mean by results?

Better performance in mathematics, happier and more fulfilled children? This article aims to present the conclusions of a series of non-exhaustive studies on the subject.

One of the first studies aims to determine whether the best results of students attending a Montessori school result from the contribution of neuroscience and the work of Maria Montessori or from their social origins.

Indeed, the vast majority of students in Montessori schools come from privileged social backgrounds. However, many sociologists have demonstrated the impact of social background on educational trajectories. Bourdieu notably explained it thanks to the concepts of cultural, economic and social baggage available to children from privileged backgrounds. Raymond Boudon has shown that parents from working-class backgrounds tend to overestimate the costs of education and underestimate the benefits, so they encourage their children less to pursue long-term studies.

Nevertheless, researchers have succeeded in remedying these biases.

In the United States, the “lottery” system and the Montessori public school allow for a more representative sample of the general population. The pupils are selected by lot and sent to the Montessori school or to a public “classical” school.

In 2017, researchers studied a sample of 140 students (Hartford Connecticut), dispersed in these two types of schools. The social environment is therefore no longer decisive. Both groups had similar results when they started school when they were 3 years old.

In contrast, at the end of kindergarten, students in the Montessori school had better results in mathematics and literature. If students from privileged backgrounds always have better results than others; on average, students always have better results in Montessori schools for the same social class.

A similar study was conducted in 2006 in Milwaukee with children from minorities.

Angeline Lillard and Nicole Else-Quest observed that at age 5, children in the Montessori school obtained better performance in mathematics and reading; they also have a more positive attitude in groups.

At 12, the differences in mathematics are no longer so obvious; instead, they write more creative essays and use more complex language. Their sense of community is greater, their interactions are more positive, and they have a greater sense of 'fairness and fairness'.

Other studies have been published and confirm the effectiveness of Montessori pedagogy. However, it is complicated to determine which criterion influences these results and in what proportion: equipment, teaching methods, teacher training, etc.

To conclude ...

Although the results lean in favor of Montessori education, we must clarify two important points in order to qualify our comments.

First, we need further research to understand educational science more accurately, and future years will tell us how much better a Montessori education is for our children.

Secondly, as Céline Alvarez, who developed a Montessori class for 3 years in a kindergarten in Gennevilliers, pointed out, the performance tests are designed for pupils from the traditional system and do not always make it possible to highlight the benefits of Montessori education; so we still have a lot to discover.

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