Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

Some things become so ingrained in the consciousness that most people never think to question them. The standard model for public schooling is one of those things, so much so that many parents never think that there might be another way to educate their children. However, across the globe, alternative schools are becoming increasingly popular, and the notion that there is only one way to learn is moving into the history books. Below are four alternative educational philosophies that are changing the way people look at education.

Montessori Schools are based on the work of Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian woman who pioneered the idea that intellect was malleable rather than fixed. Montessori education revolves around the dictum ‘teach me to do it myself’ and encourages independence – both academic and in daily life – in its students.

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Waldorf Schools were developed by philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner, who was hired to develop schools for the children of workers in the Waldorf Cigarette Factory after World War II. Based on Steiner’s theories of anthroposophy, Waldorf schools encourage delayed academics, favoring an arts-based elementary education. Watercolor painting, nature study, beeswax modelling, baking and storytelling play prominently in the curriculum.

Reggio Emilia Schools were originally developed by Loris Malaguzzi in conjunction with the parents in the village of Reggio Emilia, Italy. In reaction to the violence and upheaval of World War II, parents felt their children needed a gentle approach to education, and developed the standards of the school with that in mind. Reggio Emilia schools take an open, child-led approach to education, allowing children to learn at their own rate and according to their own interests.

Democratic Schools, such as the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham Massachusetts, take a similar approach as the Reggio Emilia schools, but take the idea of educational freedom a step further. Rather than simply guiding their own academics, students democratically decide on issues such as school governance and protocol. Students are never ‘taught,’ anything, rather they are supported and guided on their learning journey.

When deciding on an educational path for a child, it is certainly worthwhile to investigate these educational alternatives as well as others, such as homeschooling or even unschooling. Each child learns in his or her own way, and there is no one way to teach every child. When a learning method is tailored to a child’s individual needs, the child is certain to respond.

By rahul