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  • Writer's pictureChristina Guo

Alternative Education: An Idea That Accepts Children of All Abilities

Let’s look back for a moment! While growing up, how comfortable did you feel with the education system? Did you sometimes wish you were taught things differently or taught better about using some of your skills? How many times did it occur to you, that you were different from the other kids and that you never realized you had a certain skill set until you were old enough for self-discovery? We’ve all been there and wished that.

Here comes in the idea of Alternative Education. The term ‘Alternative’ itself denotes: to be different from the usual or the conventional methods. Alternative Education is just that.

The context of Alternative Education simply means that it is different from the typical or traditional approaches to education.

Traditional High Schools are designed considering that every child has a similar level of understanding, skill set and capabilities. The method of traditional education demands every child to be compliant, socially conforming, group learners, conventional processors, at grade level both intellectually and academically, and externally motivated by grades. How fair is that?

When the world is made up of so many different types of people, does it make sense that most kids get educated in the same way?

Dear parents of beautiful little angels, while we understand that many children may have similar levels of skill sets and grasping abilities, we need to understand and accept that every child is different and special in their own unique way. With time there has come a realization that the conventional methods of education are too conditioned and for decades we have led our life thinking it to be our only way. However, the idea of Alternative Education has come to challenge that.

Originally, Alternative Education was considered to be a program specially designed for students with academic or behavioural difficulties. However true it may be, the essence of alternative schooling methods has proven to support students of all abilities and every child can benefit from it. Many educational associations of United States have considered Alternative Education to be beneficial and abide by the fact that students including the intellectually gifted, exceptionally creative, the learning differentiated, elite athletes or artists or musicians or actors, ESL students, older students, students with social anxiety or emotional struggles, young entrepreneurs, and many more other categories that may exist if classified, can benefit from the methods of alternative schooling.

Not only has it proven beneficial for students but also for teachers who thought they knew it all about teaching, but the ground reality was different with every student they came across. Where traditional schooling has disabled teachers with its conditioned teaching methods, alternative education has given teachers an opportunity to use their passion for teaching in all ways possible, providing students the different options for learning they never thought they had. This not only helped in building a healthy student-teacher relationship but also allows teachers to understand every student differently and help identify the unique skills every child may have, at an early age.

Alternative Education has proven to have many much-needed advantages, because of which the students see it as a place that is student-centered, safe, accepting of everyone, and a place where students feel that they belong. It is a place that provides children the required respect, relationships, and relevance to the real world.

Though it has never been any less than education, but rather a different approach to teaching, many stigmas have been associated with alternative schooling. Below are some of the most common misconceptions about alternative education.

  • Myth 1 – Alternative Education is about giving alternatives to the needed education.

  • Myth 2 – Alternative schools are for troubled and delinquent students.

  • Myth 3 – Alternative students are not “good” students.

  • Myth 4 – Alternative education sacrifices academic excellence.

  • Myth 5 – Students at alternative schools don’t learn anything, and are just involved in playing all the time.

  • Myth 6 – Alternative students are not prepared for college.

  • Myth 7 – Alternative schools produce social misfits.

  • Myth 8 – The teachers at alternative schools are not as qualified as the traditional school teachers.

It is difficult to change the mindset of people immediately. But it is happening slowly, and the parents and teachers who have given alternative education a chance believe that it has been worth the effort and the results received are have been unexpected and exciting. This change in the paradigm of learning is believed to emphasize the change in the mindset of the coming generation.

In years to come Alternative Education shall bring in more open learning environments than conventional schools, enabling the next generation of parents to be more open and allowing their children to explore new avenues. Thus having more independent thinkers and compassionate individuals.

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