alternative schooling

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Rudolf Steiner (1861—1925) Austrian philosopher

Maria Montessori (1870—1952) Italian educationist

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Education which does not conform to that provided in state schools, in terms of either the curriculum or the approaches to teaching and learning, or both of these. Widely recognized examples of such schooling include provision based on the educational theories of Steiner, Montessori, Malaguzzi, and A. S. Neill. These approaches to schooling are firmly learner‐centred and place an emphasis on discovery learning and the learner's right to self‐determination. Rather than following solely an externally imposed and standardized curriculum, the lesson planning and teaching in these forms of alternative schooling take into account primarily the learners’ needs in relation to their social, emotional, and personal development; take as their starting point those topics which are of direct interest and relevance to the learners; and encourage learner control over the methods and activities employed. This emphasis on individual development rather than upon national standards means that examples of alternative provision such as these may be difficult to reconcile with the requirements of externally imposed targets and testing and standardized curriculum levels. In its most radical form, alternative schooling, such as that provided at Summerhill School, may take the form of a democratic community of learning where learners and teachers are considered to have equal status.

However, although often associated with radical philosophies of education, alternative schooling can also include private tuition in the pupil's own home, or schooling in a curriculum shaped by ideological or religious beliefs. See also Education Otherwise than at School; Illich, Ivan; Reggio Emilia.

Subjects: Education.

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