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Steiner and Montessori- What's the difference ?

(43 Posts)
mummyloveslucy Fri 05-Dec-08 15:45:18

Hi, I was just wondering what the difference is between a Steiner school and a Montessori school is? They both seem to be the same sort of thing.
I'm just curious really. smile

frannikin Fri 05-Dec-08 16:00:15

In a word: lots.

Steiner is a method of 'free' education which emphasises the child learning from themself and their peers. Creativity and nature play a big part in the philosophy. Children have access to pretty much any learning material they want within reason. Steiner really encourages a child's individuality and creativity, there is no 'right' way to do things as there is in Montessori where the educational tools just don't work if you don't put them together right.

Montessori is also about the child learning from themselves but the approach is much more focused. Learning materials are restricted: they have educational toys such as the pink tower and even 'domestic' tasks have all kinds of learning objectives. In the Montessori environment I worked in everything was quite restricted whereas in a Steiner environment you learn however you want. Possibly not explaining that very well but Montessori methodology is a very specific approach. Montessori is very good for cognitive development - it is an approach which encourages concentration, logic and problem solving but still through play and exploration. A lot of emphasis is put on respect especially respect for others and the environment - it's very community focused.

In fact the simplest way to explain it is the idea of learning through free play (Steiner) versus learning through structured play (Montessori).

mummyloveslucy Fri 05-Dec-08 16:09:26

Thank you. smile

AMumInScotland Fri 05-Dec-08 16:13:55

Umm, what I've heard of Steiner doesn't really fit with that description - children are very much guided by the teachers, and they have their own curriculum and belief system. For instance, see the rceent thread about all the pictures on the walls of the Steiner school looking the same...

mummyloveslucy Fri 05-Dec-08 16:37:32

I think children need bounderies and guidence to feel secure. My daughter is always looking for my approval and guidnce.
Do they leave school with good grades?
I know it shouldn't matter, but it is a competetive world ou there.

isenhart7 Fri 05-Dec-08 17:53:21

There's quite a bit on the web regarding educational theory. This article seems a good start to me as an overview and it's pretty well referenced.

CoteDAzur Fri 05-Dec-08 18:12:19

Message withdrawn

lou031205 Fri 05-Dec-08 19:11:30

Any bets on how long until this thread is pulled, then? Huge controversy re: Steiner schools.

TheGoat Fri 05-Dec-08 19:20:26

and don't forget the statler waldorf philosophy of learning. v. important imo.

CoteDAzur Fri 05-Dec-08 19:21:22

Oh. Are other threads pulled?

Well, at least OP now knows better than "Difference between Steiner and Montessori is that former is more free" hmm

mummyloveslucy Fri 05-Dec-08 20:03:45

Thanks everyone, it sounds a bit way out for me. wink I know many people swear by it though.
I don't think the thread should be pulled as it is a perfectly innocent queerie.

frannikin Fri 05-Dec-08 20:06:21

I thought that for a 5 minute response in terms of the original philosophy that wasn't a bad description. I haven't worked in a Steiner school, I've only studied the theory, and even then only in terms of preschoolers so although I think Steiner exists for education beyond that age of 8 I don't know about it....but then given that I'm in France that's not much of a suprise if they're officially listed as a cult! Equally didn't know about the weird dodgy cultish spiritual aspects. They look, um, interesting.

And apologies "free play" is a bad phrase - imaginative or creative would have been better, but that would have implied that Montessori discourages imagination and creativity which it doesn't.

Nice article by the way isenhart7, I have bookmarked for future reference.

isenhart7 Fri 05-Dec-08 20:22:06

Staler Waldorf-do you mean Starsky and Crutch?

MollieO Fri 05-Dec-08 20:53:51

My ds went to a Montessori nursery. Lots of free play but structure within that. For example if he wanted to build a tower he had to get one brick at a time from the shelf and then put them back in order when he had finished. He got to choose what he did but not how he did it if that makes sense. There is a structure of sorts but it was more fluid than other nurseries I looked at that had set timetables every day. I liked the consideration of others and community aspects too. The children had to shake hands with the teacher on the door every morning.

My son left knowing how to read and write but also how to be considerate of others and lots of practical skills too. Call me old-fashioned but I liked the fact that practically all of the toys were wooden and I also liked the fact that they actively encouraged imaginative play and independent-mindedness. My ds is a very confident and self assured 4.5 yr old which I think is due a lot to the nursery. If I had a Montessori primary nearby then he would definitely have continued there.

I know nothing about Steiner other than what I have read on the other threads here (wouldn't be my choice).

plumandolive Sat 06-Dec-08 09:09:30

mumyloveslucy- there's another thread about Steiner going on now

I would search some old threads here on mumsnet too.

Cote- many many threads have been pulled.

plumandolive Sat 06-Dec-08 09:13:20

frannikin- I think it matters very much which bits you study when studying the theory.
times education forum

barking Sat 06-Dec-08 10:10:36

Montessori is a practical based education based in the real world

steiner is an education based on self-development, communicating with the spirit world through clairvoyance


barking Sat 06-Dec-08 10:12:20

I seem to like the word 'based' blush

frannikin Sat 06-Dec-08 12:56:22

plumandolive unforunately I didn't set the syllabus. But as I said, if they're a cult in France....

*hops off to do some more research into Steiner to fill large gaps in knowledge*

plumandolive Sat 06-Dec-08 13:32:37

frannikin- smile see you in a few decades then....grin

plumandolive Sat 06-Dec-08 13:33:55

oh- I didn't mean because of your gaps- but because of the REAMS of bollocks writing by Steiner...

Dragonbutter Sat 06-Dec-08 13:41:51

Here's my very basic understanding.
DS1 goes to a montessori nursery.

Maria Montessori was a doctor and her methods were based on teaching children with physical and learning disabilities. She found that the methods could be applied to all children. For me it has an educational theory. Learning is done at the childs pace and literacy introduced when they show an interest.

Rudolf Steiner, well, not my cup of tea smile and for me his theories not based on anything real. Although i do like the focus on imagination and free play. No literacy is done before the child has their adult teeth, which IMO isn't a good enough reason.
but i like the look of the curriculum for the older kids. but have friends who have been unhappy with the long term results.

AlderTree Mon 08-Dec-08 10:58:00

Where does Montessori actually stand on imagination. I was under the impression from some people doing the training and one working in a nursery that harry potter etc - fairies type imagination was not approved of. Whereas imagining you are a fireperson, playing house was ok. Anyone actually know?

Nighbynight Mon 08-Dec-08 11:43:15

dd is at a montessori kiga in germany.
they dont do much fairies sort of stuff, but that generally reflects the experience in germany. german schools do not develop the imagination imo.
However, they do a lot of imagination type stuff based on real life, much as you said.
I think montessori schools get a hard time on mn, our experience has been good. dd is learning a lot, but she thinks she is just playing.

ds did a trial at a montessori primary, they had the same text books as the standard school for the core subjects, but each child worked at their own pace. Montessori is purely a teaching method, not rules for living.

as for steiner, well, just read the stuff, it speaks for itself. I mean steiners actual teachings about life the universe and everything, not the waffly stuff they put out in the school prospectus.

frannikin Mon 08-Dec-08 12:43:35

AlderTree - that was my experience working in a Montessori school. It was very grounded and relevant to real-life. TBH I found it slightly restrictive which is, I guess, why I don't work there any more!

It's an excellent educational method, and it is a lovely working environment if you're not the sort of person that wants to indulge in fantasy play, but it doesn't necessarily suit all children.

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