In general, alternative education is an untraditional style of education that is suited to children who don’t excel in the traditional academic classroom. Occasionally, alternative education
is aimed at a certain kind of student or group of students.
For example, a particular religion could be a focus or preparation for a certain career field. Parents may not want their children segregated by age and that is also considered alternative. Some forms of alternative education is geared toward students with problems or those who have left school and returned.
The one characteristic that is typically true about alternative education is that it seeks to offer students a choice of educational styles and experiences.
Types of Alternative Education
- Charter schools are a type of public alternative education has become well known. Although funded by the tax payer (for the most part), charter schools are similar to private schools in some ways. Educators can customize the type of learning environment to fit the needs of their community. Sometimes charter schools have been called schools of choice, which is probably because they offer more choice tha a traditional public school.
Many rules and regulations placed upon public schools do not apply to charter schools.
- Uniquely structured educational programs such as Waldorf, Montessori, and Paideia schools are alternative educational experiences. These types of schools are usually built around a particular philosophy or approach.
- Career-oriented schools offer education in careers in addition to traditional academic subjects. Career-themed schools may enhance standard academic subjects with experience in arts, law, television, radio, teaching, and so forth.
- The school-within-a-school model was driven by the benefits seen in smaller-scale schooling. Some large schools, then, developed a separate curriculum for mini schools which exist independently within the larger one. The autonomous nature of the school-within-a-school makes it separate from just a group within the school.
- Home schooling is a private form of alternative education. Home schooling is varied, but home-schooled students usually have to submit to some kind of evaluation by education authorities each year.
- Unschooling also comes under the heading of private alternative education. Unschoolers do not necessarily adhere to a curriculum, but follow their child’s lead in learning style and subject matter.
Alternative education is usually sought by parents or educators who are dissatisfied with the choices available locally and want greater opportunity, more individual attention, and higher teaching standards for their students. As public schools continue to be seen as inadequate, alternative education is on the increase.