Playful Education and Montessori Learning

Dr. Angeline Lillard, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, has been studying Montessori’s methods for more than two decades. Her article Playful Learning and Montessori Education, was recently published in the American Journal of Play.

Playful Learning and Montessori Education explores the differences between playful learning and Montessori schooling. Lillard compares and contrasts the distinctions between these didactic approaches through examining lesson structures, use of materials, role of the teacher or guide, and what intrinsic or extrinsic rewards are presented. The article skillfully presents the notion of pretend play by connecting its inherent qualities, often found in playful learning, to the absence of fantasy in Montessori education. Dr. Lillard’s research studies how this connection is interpreted and employed in Montessori schooling, which engages playful learning through intuition, individualized interest, and the exploration of materials and objects at a natural rate of progression. Her ability to draw similarities while distinguishing the two philosophies provides a clear understanding of how both methods approach the concept of play in a classroom setting.

Lillard’s discussion provides a great expansion to the field of Montessori research and support. To read more, the article can be found in the American Journal of Play, volume 5, number 2.