Alternative Schools

Alternative Schools

What Is An Alternative School?

Alternative schools are as they sound; alternative forms of education. This means that they vary from the traditional schools and their traditional method of teaching and learning. Alternative schools may have strong philosophies on particular aspects such as political, mathematical, music, technology or other such theory for a variety of reasons. The philosophical stands that the administration of an alternative school makes, will often be at the forefront of their curriculum and learning.

How Did Alternative Schools Come About?

Alternative schools have in the past had a negative connotation and bad rapport. When they first began, alternative schools were primarily for students that were disadvantaged, handicapped, from low socioeconomic status, at risk of failing, or those with behavior problems. Today, alternative schools are more known for taking in at-risk youth but also pregnant teenagers, gifted children, bilingual students and others that are not reaching their greatest potential in traditional classrooms. It appears from an educational sense that more of our students are in need of more non-traditional teaching methods than they were 40 years ago.

There has also been an increase of drugs, violence and sex in the public schools over the last few decades. The reasons for this are unknown but are speculated to be due to the larger class sizes, larger case loads of teachers, and more pressure on the school systems in general. Some alternative schools have been started to help students get away from the negative moral issues that are rising on Elementary, Jr. High and High School campuses across the US. In alternative schools it is believed that teachers, parents and administration will be more involved in students lives and more aware of what is happening on the school campus than those in traditional schools.

What Sets An Alternative School Apart From Traditional Schools?

The aspects that really set apart an alternative school as opposed to a traditional school are smaller class size, giving students more one-on-one instruction time. Generally, these schools have more parental involvement as required by the primary decision makers. There is often a more diverse curriculum and more student decision making in alternative schools as well.

How Common Are Alternative Schools?

In the US, alternative schools began before the 1970 and were fairly uncommon. Today, alternative schools are becoming much more common and popular in our educational society. Alternative schools may be created for a number of reasons. Some alternative schools are made for students who struggle with behavior problems and need a way to learn that doesn’t involve sitting in a desk, reading, and writing in the traditional sense. Other alternative schools are created for those that are being brought up in a particular society, culture, or profession such as Catholic schools. Still others may be created for those students that are simply held back by traditional methods of learning and may need a faster paced curriculum, or more one-on-one instruction.

What Difference Are Alternative Schools Making?

The overall belief and general feeling concerning alternative schools is very positive. The majority of participants feel that alternative education is making a difference to their students and that students that would otherwise fail, are finding success with a little more attention and care. Although not every alternative school is effective in their nontraditional methods, many parents are continually finding need for them. Alternative schools are rising in demand and appear that they will continue to do so for some time.