Educationists realize many ways of understanding the needs of the child in balance with needs of the society at large. Unlike traditional public or private schools that are similar in many aspects to one another, the difference lies in the learning experience and methods used to accomplish theses goals in more creative and specialized ways. An alternative schooling attempts to create and maintain high self-esteem and confidence by its own methods and approaches to learning as well as teaching.
For decades, there has been a consensus that if a child did not perform academically, he/she was good for nothing. Over the years, it took a lot of open minded thinking to recognize the fact that the norms, methods and philosophies of the education system didn’t work equally for everyone. It was not that something was wrong with some children; it just meant that they were incompatible with a particular education system and they need some other options to fulfill their potential. Thus, the concept of alternative or non-traditional education came into being.
Alternative education believes that there is more than one way to educate children that match their learning style. It doesn’t have a fixed curriculum and it broadly sees an individual in terms of their strengths as well as weaknesses. If a child is not doing well in a subject or an area like sports, arts, crafts or academics, it simply emphasizes it as a room for improvement and not a fault of the child.
However, alternative education is based on a completely different set of ideas as compared to traditional education, the two are still compatible with each other. The only difference lies in the fact that alternative education is a tailor made learning for more room to explore and be an independent learner rather than rote learning type of education.
Following are the main features of the two education systems:
o All the schools under traditional system follow the same set of rules and policies.
o In an alternative system, each school is different to another as they do not follow ‘one model fits all’ approach.
o Traditional Education system has a fixed curriculum. The course material is standard and courses are regulated by a central body.
o The alternative education system has a flexible curriculum to suit an individual child. The course material is prepared and regulated by the teachers.
o Traditional schooling has fixed subjects- reading, writing and math, they are structured for child, and concepts are guided by teacher
o In alternative schooling, you may find subjects like spirituality, ecology, photography, environment science etc., depending upon a child’s interest.
o Traditional schools have a passive role for the student in classroom learning whereas teacher plays an active and dominant role in teaching activities.
o Teacher’s role is to facilitate learning in the classroom and students are active participants in classroom learning.
o Students have little control over the pace of instruction; group norm or teacher sets it.
o In alternative school, there is high student involvement in helping peer, teaching and collaborating.
o There is large amount of government funding in traditional schools
o Alternative schools have limited government funding as well as regulation.
o In traditional schools, parents have access to attendance, grades, behavior, and class work of their child.
o In alternative schools, there is limited information flow to parents.
Each education system has its pros as well as cons. What suits your child and how you want to pursue it depends upon your priorities. It’s better to look broadly into your child’s interest and then choose education system that best suits him/her instead of forcing to learn and follow the set practices and methods.