What I like about Montessori is that she believed in the spirit man. I live in a very religious community and the newest rage is a book called the Purpose Driven Life. Whenever I hear the title of this book, all I can do is think about Maria Montessori. Montessori really believed that we have an inner spirit and a purpose on this earth for doing good. Her ideal for education is based on individual success.
In contrast to this, my public school education was based on the errors and failure of students. You were either right or wrong, depending on one person, your teacher. She was there to mold and form you into her image of you. It was a very “Dewey” experience.
Janet Kierstead writes about the difference between Dewey and Montessori as follows-
Whereas Maria Montessori believes that humans are born with a divine animating spirit, John Dewey believes that no such spirit exists, and that it is society which shapes the child. Their definitions of education reflect this difference. For Montessori, education is a natural process that develops spontaneously in the human being, and formal education assists the child in this spontaneous process.
Much of our education is based Dewey’s behaviorist view of human beings. I think what our public school system lacks is Montessori’s belief in man’s inner spirit.
For Dewey education is growth, and the continuous reconstruction of experience and formal education guides that growth in a desired direction.
Dewey believed that people in charge of education must form the man instead of Montessori’s belief that the child forms the man. Dewey believed that society and its institutions controlled man’s morals, whereas Montessori believed that moral control was internal. I’m with Montessori on this one.