To the bulk of society, the term “Alternative Education” brings multiple misconceptions to mind. Ranging from “it’s only for delinquents and criminals”, or “it’s religion’s way to segregate the population”, to “Alt. Ed. Is only for ‘gifted’ or ‘specially slow children'”. A more accurate definition of alternative education is an educational institution ran by non-conventional strategies and practices.
The reasons for attendance are many, while some back up peoples’ misconceptions, other reasons are so logical not many realize them. If you think about it, each person is unique, as is each person’s mind… so why should every person be able to learn the same way? It’s just common sense to know that in order to effectively stimulate every mind of every student, there needs to be multiple options of ways for them to learn.
The purpose of an alternative education program is to target and stimulate the learning styles of multiple types of people, while most standardized curriculums are structured in a way that one must fit the right styles of learning in order to excel, and they are just that: very structured and non-flexible. Most commonly found these days are schools that are made up of teachers whose teaching styles, and students whose learning styles, are in some way too different from the mainstream styles for them to really have a chance in succeeding.
Some students enroll in an alternative program due to personal issues with society, be them from taunting and teasing from other students or from low educational self esteems grown from past experience with difficulty learning and failing grades. Others enroll to learn from a more communal setting. Some were sent to such school by the courts, and some are either having trouble keeping up with the traditional standards of learning, while other students have found traditional standards to fall behind their needs.
Whatever the case, there are many ways alternative education promotes lower drop out rates, and should one enroll with common misconceptions, they will find themselves surprised to find other students than the typical pregnant teens, druggies and “retards” surrounding their new environment. All alternative education options can be viewed as advocates in reducing the high drop out rate we see today. Supporters of drop out prevention programs believe that dropping out will effect students not only professionally, but personally and socially as well. Many argue that drop outs are more likely to obtain public assistance down the road.
The types of alternative education are many, including but not limited to: charter schools, alternative schools, independent schools, and home schooling. The most common amongst these are alternative schools and the option of home schooling. While many alternative schools were founded in the 1970’s, education luminaries have suggested for centuries that educators use excessively different methods of teaching young children than ones handed to them in a curriculum set up by society. Some well known names that shared these beliefs are Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, Henry David Thoreau, and John Dewey.
Most alternative schools are without governmental support, as they are still independent. While some have to charge tuition to stay afloat, many find other means to operate in order to insure that students from all backgrounds are able to attend. Feeding such a diverse intellectual population supports the drop out prevention programs by giving one the confidence in themselves they need to succeed, allows them to complete their educational requirements by stimulating their unique learning techniques, and gives them access to the tools and learning atmosphere they need to achieve society’s educational goals.
Many parents choose to home school their children either because they don’t feel that the public school system is doing a good enough job, their children cannot function in public to the best of their abilities, or as punishment for behavioral problems they have encountered with their children. Of course there are multiple other reasons parents choose to self educate, those are some of the most common. Some neighborhoods that house many home schooling children tend to get together and divvy up the responsibilities between the parents. Assigning different core classes between parents to teach, they kind of make up their own “school”.
Whether the student needs a special way of learning from problems at home, needing a new style of teaching, or if they just can’t function in public, alternative education is a valuable part of the schooling system. Any legal means to helping students learn and grow should be looked at as an asset, not looked down on. There will always be the stereotypes and the cliques, and certain beliefs will form amongst them. However, for as long as there has been humanity, there has been a diversity in the way different minds work, think and learn; As such, there should always be “alternative” options to stimulate such growth. Individualism and differences are innocent, great things… who are we to defer one’s chances at personal success and prosperity?