An alternative school is an educational establishment with a curriculum and methods that are nontraditional. Such schools offer a wide range of philosophies and teaching methods; some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, while others are more ad hoc assemblies of teachers and students dissatisfied with some aspect of mainstream or traditional education.
Some schools are based on pedagogical approaches differing from that of the mainstream pedagogy employed in a culture, while other schools are for gifted students, children with special needs, children who have fallen off the track educationally and/or expelled from their base school, children who wish to explore unstructured or less rigid system of learning, etc.
There are many models of alternative schools but the features of promising alternative programs seem to converge more or less on the following characteristics:
In the United Kingdom, 'alternative school' refers to a school that provides a learner centered informal education as an alternative to the regimen of traditional education in the United Kingdom. There's a long tradition of such schools in the United Kingdom, going back to Summerhill, whose founder, A. S. Neill, greatly influenced the spread of similar democratic type schools such as the famous Dartington Hall School, and Kilquhanity School, both now closed. Currently there are two democratic primary schools, Park School and Small Acres, and two democratic secondary schools, Summerhill and Sands School. There are also a range of schools based on the ideas of Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner.
In the United States, there has been tremendous growth in the number of alternative schools in operation since the 1970s, when relatively few existed. Some alternative schools are for students of all academic levels and abilities who are better served by a non-traditional program. Others are specifically intended for students with special educational needs, address social problems that affect students, such as teenage parenthood or homelessness, or accommodate students who are considered at risk of failing academically.
In Canada, local school boards choose whether or not they wish to have alternative schools and how they are operated. The alternative schools may include multi-age groupings, integrated curriculum or holistic learning, parental involvement, and descriptive reports rather than grades. Some school systems provide alternative education streams within the state schools.
In Canada, schools for children who are having difficulty in a traditional secondary school setting are known as alternate schools.
Germany has over 200 Waldorf schools, including the first such school in the world (founded 1919), and a large number of Montessori schools. Each of these has its own national association, whereas most other alternative schools are organized in the National Association of Independent Alternative Schools (). Funding for private schools in Germany differs from Bundesland to Bundesland.
Full public funding is given to laboratory schools researching school concepts for public education. The Laborschule Bielefeld had a great influence on many alternative schools, including the renewal of the democratic school concept.
In South Korea, alternative schools serve three big groups of youth in South Korea. The first group is students who could not succeed in formative Korean education. Many of these schools serve students who dropped out during their earlier school years, either voluntarily or by disciplinary action. The second group is young immigrants. As the population of immigrants from Southeast Asia and North Korea is increasing, several educators started to see the necessity of the adaptive education, specially designed for these young immigrants. Because South Korea has been a monoethnic society throughout its history, there is not enough system and awareness to protect these students from bullying, social isolation, or academic failure.For instance, the drop-out rate for North Korean immigrant students is ten times higher than that of students from South Korean students because their major challenge is initially to adapt to South Korean society, not to get a higher test score. The other group is students who choose an alternative education because of its philosophy. Korean education, as in many other Asian countries, is based on testing and memorizing. Some students and parents believe this kind of education cannot nurture a student thoroughly and choose to go to an alternative school, that suggests a different way to learn for students. These schools usually stress the importance of interaction between other people and nature over written test results.
The major struggle in alternative schools in South Korea are recognition, lack of financial support, and quality gap between alternative schools. Although South Korean public's recognition to alternative education has deliberately changed, the progressive education still is not widely accepted. To enter a college, regular education is often preferred because of the nation's rigid educational taste on test result and record. For the same reason, South Korean government is not actively supporting alternative schools financially.
Hence, many alternative schools are at risk of bankruptcy, especially the schools that do not or cannot collect tuition from their students. Most Southeast Asian and North Korean immigrant families are financially in need, so they need assist from government's welfare system for their everyday life. It is clear that affording private education is a mere fantasy for these families. That phenomenon, at last, causes a gap among alternative schools themselves. Some schools are richly supported by upper-class parents and provide variety of in-school and after-school programs, and others rarely have resource to build few academic and extracurricular programs as such.
India has a long history of alternative schools. Vedic and Gurukul systems of education during 1500 BC to 500 BC emphasized on acquisition of occupational skills, cultural and spiritual enlightenment in an atmosphere which encouraged rational thinking, reasoning among the students. Hence the aim of education was to develop the pupil in various aspects of life as well as ensure social service. However, with the decline of the local economies and the advent of the colonial rulers this system went into decline. Some notable reforms like English as the medium of instruction, were introduced as recommended in Macaulay's Minute in the year 1835. The mainstream schools of today still follow the system developed in the colonial era. In the years since independence, Government has focused on expansion of school network, designing of curriculum according to educational needs,local language as the medium of instruction, etc. By the end of nineteenth century, many social reformers began to explore alternatives to contemporary education system. Vivekananda, Dayanand Saraswati, Jyotiba Phule, Savitribai Phule, Syed Ahmed Khan were the pioneers who took up the cause of social regeneration, removal of social inequalities, promotion of girl's education through alternate schools. In the early twentieth century educationists create models of alternative schools as a response to the drawbacks to mainstream schools which are still viable. Rabindranath Tagore's Shanti Niketan, Jiddu Krishnamurthy's Rishi Valley School, Sri Aurobindo and Mother's Sri Aurobindo International Center for Education popularly known as Ashram Schools, and Walden's Path Magnet School are some of the examples. An upsurge in alternative schools was seen in 1970's onward. But most of the alternate schools are the result of individual efforts rather than government. The establishment of National Institute Open Schooling (NIOS)in 1989 by Ministry of Human Resource Development was one of the steps taken by the government which took all such schools under its wings. NIOS provide platform for the alternate school children to take government prescribed examination.
Alternative education programs are ideal for people who think college education is not a requirement for becoming successful entrepreneurs. These programs educate neophyte and experienced entrepreneurs while providing them with the necessary resources. An article published at Forbes.com last February 11, 2018 mentioned that many educational institutions contribute to their respective accelerator courses. The University of Missouri System initiated the Ameren Accelerator which concentrates on energy startups and assists entrepreneurs in obtaining essential know-how about the industry from educator-partners at the university level. There are international programs that also offer related resources like Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana, Africa. It has an incubator program providing seed capital, training, and learning opportunities in a rigorous one-year program from outstanding students in the African region.
The Huffington Post cited options in alternative learning like Home School, Micro Schooling, and Unschooling.The concept of Unschooling means the student learns according to the way that person wants for specific reasons and choice. The individual gets help from teachers, parents, books, or formal classes but makes the final decision on how to proceed and according to his or her preferred schedule. Micro-schools or independent free schools differ in approach, size, and authority. These are contemporary one-room schools, full-time or part-time facilities, or learning centers that are owned and managed by teachers or parents. Some parents choose this non-traditional system over formal education because it teaches youngsters to look for practical solutions. The USA is attempting to serve an increasing number of a good number of at-risk students outside the conventional highs schools. There are Alternative Education Campuses that cater to dropouts or those who have been expelled from their schools. There are reportedly more than 4,000 AECs all over the country.
ALPHA Alternative School is an alternative school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is Toronto's oldest public alternative school. It was created by parents, and based on the Ontario government's Hall-Dennis Report. ALPHA stands for "A lot of people hoping for an alternative." It is located downtown on Brant Street, near Adelaide St.
The school was started with no tests or grades. Behaviour rules were created and enforced by students and staff democratically.Avondale Alternative Secondary School
Avondale Alternative Secondary School is a public alternative school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It teaches grades 9 through 12. ASAS and its family schools, Avondale Elementary School and Avondale Alternative Elementary School, are part of the Toronto District School Board. Prior to 1998, the schools were part of the North York Board of Education. The school is temporarily housed (as of 2019) in the former Silverview Public School building on 24 Silverview Drive.Dare County, North Carolina
Dare County is the easternmost county in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 33,920. Its county seat is Manteo. The county is named after Virginia Dare, the first child born in the Americas to English parents, who was born in what is now Dare County.Dare County is included in the Kill Devil Hills, NC Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC Combined Statistical Area.
At one time, the now-abandoned town of Buffalo City was the largest community in the county. Because it includes much of Pamlico Sound, Dare County is the largest county in North Carolina by total area, although if one were to consider land area only, it drops down to 68th in size among the state's 100 counties. This is because, according to the Census Bureau's 2010 statistics, only 24.54% of its area is land, the lowest percentage of all counties in the state. Robeson County is the largest county in North Carolina by land area only.Excelsior District, San Francisco
The Excelsior District is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California.Franklin, Kentucky
Franklin is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of Simpson County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 8,408 at the 2010 census.Fremont Unified School District Alternative Schools
The Fremont Unified School District Alternative Schools are a collaboration of three alternative schools within the Fremont Unified School District.Fulton County School System
The Fulton County School System is a school district headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The system serves the area of Fulton County outside the Atlanta city limits (which are served by Atlanta Public Schools). Fulton County Schools serve the cities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Roswell, and Sandy Springs north of Atlanta, and Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Palmetto, Union City, and Fulton's remaining unincorporated areas in the south. Fulton County is the fourth-largest school system in Georgia.
The Fulton County school district is the only non-contiguous school district in the state, having a 17-mile (27 km) separation (Atlanta Public Schools) between the north and south. The Fulton County school district continues to expand with the addition of three new schools during the 2016-2017 school year. They include Wolf Creek Elementary, Ester Jackson (replacement), and Vickery Mill Elementary.
As of the 2012-2013 school year, Fulton has 11,500 full-time employees, including 7,500 teachers and other certified personnel, who work in 99 schools and 15 administrative and support buildings. Approximately 94,000 students attend classes in 58 elementary schools, 19 middle schools, 15 high schools, and seven charter schools.
Fulton County Schools is overseen by a seven-member board, all of whom are elected by geographic electoral district to four-year terms. Members of the Fulton County Board of Education are elected to four-year terms. Elections are held in even-numbered years. As of 2019, the school members include: District 1 - Katha Stuart, District 2 - Katie Reeves, District 3 - Gail Dean, District 4 - Linda Bryant, District 5 - Linda McCain, District 6 - Kimberly Dove, District 7 - Julia Bernath.Gaston County Schools
Gaston County Schools is a public school district located in Gaston County, North Carolina. With 31,189 students enrolled in 55 schools as of the 2012/13 academic year, it is the ninth largest public school district in North Carolina.Jefferson Parish Public Schools
Jefferson Parish Public Schools is a school district based in Harvey in unincorporated Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States. The district operates all district public schools in Jefferson Parish. As of 2014 it had 47,000 students, making it the largest public school system in the state.Lanier County, Georgia
Lanier County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,078. The county seat and only incorporated municipality is Lakeland. The county is named after the Georgia poet Sidney Lanier.Lanier County is part of the Valdosta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Lanier shares Moody Air Force Base with Lowndes County on its western boundary.M. R. Wood Alternative Education Center
M. R. Wood Alternative Education Center (MRW), also known as the M. R. Wood Center for Learning, was an alternative school in Sugar Land, Texas and a part of the Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD). It was in proximity to the Imperial Sugar plant.Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB, known as English-language Public District School Board No. 25 prior to 1999) refers to both the institution responsible for the operation of all English public schools in the city of Ottawa, Ontario and its governing body. Like most school boards, the OCDSB is administered by a group of elected trustees and one director selected and appointed by the Board itself. Additionally, annually, two student trustees are selected per provincial regulation.
Every four years, within the context of the Ottawa municipal elections, an election is held within each of Ottawa's twelve trustee electoral zones to elect each trustee. Following election and annually thereafter, the Board of Trustees holds its organizational meeting, where the Board membership elects two of its members to the positions of chair and vice-chair of the Board. Chairs and membership of each of the Board's committees are also determined as part of the organizational meeting. In addition to the twelve trustees, two student trustees are elected by their peers, providing opportunities for the student body to become informed and involved in Board governance.Parkway West High School (Philadelphia)
Parkway West High School is a public magnet high school located in the Mill Creek neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It shares a site with the Middle Years Alternative School for the Humanities (MYA). Both schools are part of the School District of Philadelphia.
The schools are located in the former Mayer Sulzberger Junior High School building. It was designed by Irwin T. Catharine and built in 1923–1924. It is a three-story, 17 bay, brick building on a raised stone basement in the Colonial Revival-style. It is in the shape of a shallow "W". It features a center projecting pavilion, brick pilasters with stone caps, stone cornice, and a brick parapet. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.In 2008, the school district voted to close the Sulzberger Middle School due to declining enrollment. Additionally, Parkway West and MYA were moved from an older, deteriorating building to the Sulzberger building. Both schools were moved in by 2009.R. H. King Academy
R. H. King Academy (also called R. H. King, RHKA, RHK or King) is a secondary school (and a de facto alternative school) located in Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario and is part of the Toronto District School Board. Founded in 1922 as Scarborough High School, the school became Scarborough Collegiate Institute in January 1930, before becoming R. H. King Collegiate Institute in 1954 and renamed again to R. H. King Academy in 1989. The school was built on David Pherrill's farm, who was a member of the Pherrill family whom farmed in the area. The first few months of the school year in 1922 began at Birch Cliff Congregational Church. The 1922 Collegiate Gothic building was built by architects Burden & Gouinlock (George Roper Gouinlock, son of George Wallace Gouinlock and Henry J. Burden), with association with Harold E. Carter (who later worked on the 1949-1950 addition as Carter, Coleman and Rankin Associates). While the 1949-1950 additions remains, all but the archway was retained from the original 1922 structure as the rest was demolished in 1976.
R.H. King was the first secondary school built in the former township of Scarborough and second-oldest surviving institution in the Scarborough district, after Agincourt Collegiate Institute. The motto for R. H. King Academy is "Diligimus Quaerimus Servimus" (We Care, We Strive, We Serve).SEED Alternative School
SEED Alternative School is a small Toronto District School Board alternative high school now located in Toronto's east end.
Previous locations include Yonge and College, McCaul St, and Bloor and Spadina, in downtown Toronto. Originally, as a summer program, it was at Dundas St West and Bloor St W (where they cross in Toronto, not in then-Etobicoke).
The acronym 'SEED' originally stood for 'Summer of Experience Exploration and Discovery', and when it became year round semestered school it was changed to 'Shared Experience Exploration and Discovery'. Students interested in a particular subject, would gather other students, and together they would find a knowledgeable person to act as a teacher or catalyst, and meet regularly to learn. The groups met at various locations and times, including sometimes evenings and weekends. It was entirely up to the students how many and which subjects they studied, and when and where the groups would meet. A group studying Mass Media, for example, would meet in the evening in the Lowther Avenue home of CBC Radio Broadcasters Betty Tomlinson and Allan Anderson. The Vegan Lifestyles cooking course met and cooked in student homes with parents joining to eat the meals prepared by the students. A Japanese Studies group met at the University of Toronto. A few groups met at SEED's own facilities.
SEED was founded by the then Toronto Board of Education as a summer program for high school age students in 1968 during the Pierre Trudeau era, a period that also produced Rochdale College and Theatre Passe Muraille and fostered the growth of Coach House Books and a number of other experimental institutions in Toronto. (SEED was not connected with any of them.) The teachers, or co-ordinators as they were called, in the beginning were Les Birmingham and Murray Shukyn, both of whom came from the elementary school system.
While initially a summer only program, the students of the second summer wanted to keep SEED going throughout the year. That fall the students obtained recognition from the University of Toronto, and requested the Board establish it as a high school to obtain core funding (for staff and space) and so that students could obtain high school diplomas. During that fall and winter, students ran SEED without any coordinators, using an office made available free by St Thomas Anglican Church on Huron Street.
The Board of Education agreed to make SEED a high school, and in September it was a recognized high school, operating in rented space at what was then the YMHA (at Bloor St W and Spadina) in Toronto. Official enrolment was capped at 100 students, with those 100 eligible to earn high school credits/diplomas. Additional students could also attend but not earn high school credits/diplomas. Grades 9 to 13 were included. Students who had gone to SEED but who were officially under the jurisdiction of a nearby Boards of Education, were included as students. A budget of about $200,000 was approved. Murray Shukyn was the first coordinator. To meet the technical requirement of having a principal, and yet minimize costs, the Superintendent of Secondary Schools A. L. Milloy was appointed Principal, but he was not involved at the school. A small core group of four or five teachers was hired, most of whom were certified to teach in more than one high school subject so that students, if they wished, could still take traditional subjects taught by certified teachers that would qualify for a high school diploma.
The students ran the school, often dealing directly with the Board of Education where trustees such as long time trustees Fiona Nelson and Dr. Maurice Lister were supportive.
At the time all Ontario high schools, with one exception, followed part B of the Ministry of Education's regulation HS1. Part B outlined the traditional high school program. SEED was only the second school in the province set up under part A. Part A allowed tremendous flexibility.
It was now possible to get a high school diploma using many different subjects.
The school was influenced by the pedagogical philosophy of A.S. Neill's Summerhill School. It was also known for its catalyst system in which university students, professors, community members and experts-at-large on a variety of fields facilitated classes. Milton van der veen was the catalyst for the SEED newsletter (he is now a volunteer with the charity 'Sleeping Children Around the World'.) Noted late science fiction author Judith Merril ran a weekly science fiction seminar at SEED from 1972-1973. Other notable catalysts included noted social activist June Callwood, CBC Radio broadcaster Allan Anderson, then-architect Colin Vaughan, journalists John Gault and Maggie Siggins, advertising executive Billy Edwards (one of the subjects of Allan King's film A Married Couple), and notable Toronto City Alderman Ying Hope. Several U of T professors, such as Milt Wilson of Trinity College, also taught courses.
The notable impact of SEED, Toronto's first alternative school in the Toronto District School Board system, was that it opened the door to a number of other alternative schools. Among them were Learnxs, Subway Academy One, SOLE, and ACE, which Murray Shukyn, SEED's co-founder and first coordinator, helped to organize.
A notable achievement was a short film entitled Life Times Nine made by SEED students that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1973.Notable alumni include blogger, journalist, activist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow; former head of the Ontario Securities Commission and V.P. of the Toronto Stock Exchange, lawyer Edward Waitzer; musician and producer Efrim Menuck; Harvard physics professor and Chair of the Physics Department Melissa Franklin, a co-discover of the top quark; visual artist Eli Langer; author Claudia Casper; gh3 principal and award-winning landscape architect, Diana Gerrard; intersex activist, researcher and professor of sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University, Morgan Holmes; professor of psychology at Conestoga College, Barry Cull; and photographer Michael McLuhan, son of Marshall McLuhan, notable artist Jesse B. Harris.Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies
Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies (SCAS), formerly Tabor Park Vocational School is an alternative and adult high school serving Scarborough, a part of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It operates under the Toronto District School Board and was previously part of the pre-amalgamated board, Scarborough Board of Education prior to merger. Originated at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in 1977 as the re-entry program, the school opened in 1986 at the Tabor Park building and as of 2010, the school is located in the campus of the former Midland Avenue Collegiate Institute sharing with the fellow schools, South East Year Round Alternative Centre and Caring and Safe Schools Alternative Program Area C.
SCAS also operates a satellite campus on 2740 Lawrence Avenue East at David and Mary Thomson Collegiate Institute site for the Carpentry program.School District 46 Sunshine Coast
School District 46 Sunshine Coast is a school district in British Columbia, Canada. It covers an area in the Sunshine Coast region northwest of Greater Vancouver, including the communities of Gibsons, and Sechelt.
The School District has a significant number of students with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit ancestry. It operates within the traditional territories of the shíshálh (Sechelt) Nation and the Skwxwu7mesh uxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and works with these First Nations to provide Aboriginal Programs and Services, including the sháshishálhem (shíshálh) Language and Culture Program. In partnership with the Sechelt Indian Band Education Department, these are offered at both elementary and secondary schools.The Junction
The Junction is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that is near the West Toronto Diamond, a junction of four railway lines in the area. The neighbourhood was previously an independent city called West Toronto, that was also its own federal electoral district until amalgamating with the city of Toronto in 1909. The main intersection of the area is Dundas Street West and Keele Street. The Stockyards is the northeastern quadrant of the neighbourhood.Woodbridge College
Woodbridge College is a secondary school in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. The school opened its doors in 1958 as Woodbridge High School, and remained a public secondary school until 1991, when it became an alternative school, changing its name to Woodbridge College, with students in grades 7-OAC. In 2000, Woodbridge College's alternative school status ended and it returned to being a public secondary school with grades 9 to 12. The school's name as "Woodbridge College" remains unchanged to present day. The school's current enrollment is approximately 523 students. During the 2015 to 2016 school year, Fraser Institute ranked the school at 279 out of 740 in Ontario.
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