Does Montessori Support Creativity?

A study published in 2019 was one of a number that have aimed to determine whether Montessori education contributes to creativity in students. While continued research would be beneficial to learning more about whether or not it does, the findings were interesting and we thought you might want to learn about them.

What is creativity?

Creativity is a difficult concept to define, and even more difficult to measure. A general understanding of creativity is that it is the ability to generate independent and novel ideas that can be used to solve problems or create new contributions.

There are a number of traits of the Montessori environment that researchers identified as being potential contributing factors in terms of cultivating creativity. Many of the elements identified have been proven to be supporters of creativity in other studies as well. These factors include:

  • Emphasis on independence and choice

  • Physical differences in the classroom environment

  • Flexibility in regards to time

  • Focus on intrinsic motivation

  • Opportunities for collaboration

  • A sense of control over one’s work and activities

Study methods

The study, which took place over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, utilized data collected from two settings. 77 third graders at a public Montessori school in the United States and 71 third graders in a similar but traditional public school were participants.

There are a variety of evaluations that have been used in academic studies to measure creativity. Most of them focus on either divergent thinking (the ability to form novel ideas) or convergent thinking (the ability to synthesize and combine ideas). The researchers in this study decided to use an assessment that measures both divergent and convergent thinking (the Evaluation of Potential Creativity) in order to obtain a more complete collection of data.