Alternate Education???

By savithar | Jul 7, 2015

Alternate Education - this phrase really puzzles me especially after my journey so far working with different pedagogues, systems and most importantly children in different settings. The two glaringly different terms that we come across today when we speak of education are Traditional and Alternate. I would say there is in reality no alternate education. All of us become traditional in some way or the other. I have come across Montessori schools that do not want to look at any other method and believe that their method is the best. There have been many cases in my work as a teacher where I have come across children who learn beautifully the concept that is given by a material without it. The child might not be able to sit through a presentation because of various reasons. Under such circumstances if we really believe that Montessori education is an alternate path then we should be fine with the child learning without the materials. The materials are aids/ tools not the only mean of learning, yet we force that upon the child because we follow the method, we believe in it more than we believe in the child. Nature is the most powerful tool and children are so close to nature. Similarly I have found alternate schools that completely say no to any practices of the so called traditional school even though in a particular scenario or for a particular child, it might be beneficial. I remember having given a presentation of Montessori education in an alternate school and that was the first time it occurred to me that there is no alternate education in reality, we are all traditional in our own ways and stick to what we believe in or have been made to believe in. Pedagogues and philosophies are creating barriers and divisions. To me Maria Montessori/ J. Krishnamurthi should not become a religion that we promote but the work of two great educators who saw education and learning as it truly is and as a tool to help mankind progress and be at peace and harmony. If in a Montessori school, we say that we will not help the child if he or she is not sitting on a mat and working / is not able to take presentations, then in what way are we alternate. Not having exams, structure and having different ways of giving concept does not make one alternate. How ready are we to follow the child, how ready are we to embrace a method that is beneficial to even one child in the whole environment, how ready are we to accept parents who might not necessarily able to understand our philosophy and how ready are we to take in adults who truly have a passion to work with the child although they may not be "trained" traditionally - this includes Montessori training as well as training provided by other schools of thought. To me an alternate school would be one that is completely inclusive, one that is open to exploring new methods, improvising rather than confining and thus meeting the needs of the diverse student community. So, can we build more inclusive schools instead of becoming traditional by strictly following the method that appeals to us or that we have trained in.

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