Alternatives to Traditional Education

Alternatives to Traditional Education

In one of our previous posts we were talking about three very interesting schools that differ from traditional institutions in one way or another and who invented homework. The first school is unique because students are not forced to study what they do not want to study and can choose what they want to do in school and even what time they want to come (this is especially attractive for those who cannot call themselves early birds).

The second school is also unusual because it is hidden from people underground. Although it serves some rather pragmatic purposes, this location is still quite strange. The third school is more traditional in terms of its academic program and goals, but to get enrolled you should win a lottery. In this post we would like to talk a little more about such exclusive and unique schools that might impress you a lot.

How Will This Subject Be Helpful in Real Life?

This is the kind of question that students of Watershed school never ask. This school offers a very exciting program indeed: instead of taking all possible classes and memorizing words from textbook, students at Watershed get a unique opportunity not only to apply their skills in practice, but acquire these skills by practicing. Instead of sitting in a classroom and studying confusing and abstract algebra, students can improve their algebra skills by solving real life engineering problems. Every single core subject is not simple theory – they are based on different projects due to which students can really see how theory combines with practice.

The school also offers children a number of interesting elective courses in filmmaking, climbing, photography, music, visual arts, etc. These electives, as well as courses in science (biology, chemistry, geology), are designed in such a way that students feel not just like students, but like future specialists because they are involved into various professional activities and projects. If students are studying architecture, they do not look at the pictures in textbooks – they walk around the town and examine existing buildings learning how different styles and methods work.

Certainly, this is a brilliant school, but it is totally fine that it does not work for certain children. Studying at Watershed requires a student to be very independent and to be able to spend days and nights away from home (in case of organized trips and expeditions). Nevertheless, it is great that such a school exists and that it is open for children who study in middle and high school. But you should also keep in mind that such an amazing place is very costly – a year at Watershed costs more than $20,000. Yes, this is the price of unique education system.

When Electronic Devices Are Everywhere and This Is Encouraged

Today a lot of parents complain that their children are addicted to computers, tablets, and other numerous electronic devices. Children know how to use smartphones when they are two years old. By the moment they are teenagers, electronic devices are as important for modern children as air and water. Some schools make everything possible to help children get distracted from computers and spend more time reading, singing, playing musical instruments, and enjoying nature (for example, this is one of the biggest features of Waldorf schools).

However, people forget that electronic devices, as well as the Internet, are not evil at all if children know how to use them to get knowledge. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, there is a school where children’s dreams come true: there are no textbooks – only computers. This is the School of Future which was established in 2006. This school helps students go digital and understand technology very well. Some people might think it is not a good idea, but in fact we all live in the era of technology, and being good at this is essential and progressive. If you look at all the job offers requirements, you might notice that for each applicant it is necessary to have good Microsoft Office skills. Certainly, graduates of the School of Future will unlikely have problems with meeting this requirement. The good thing about this school is that students show high academic achievements in reading and mathematics.

The disadvantage of the School of Future is that the enrollment is possible only if the candidate wins the lottery (the same situation we saw with Mountain Mahogany School in New Mexico). As you can see, schools that offer advanced learning and unique opportunities for children are getting more and more popular, but to become a student of such a school is extremely challenging – either it is quite costly, or you have to be lucky and win your chance to be enrolled. Perhaps, for some of us these schools seem to be too extravagant. Maybe, you think that traditional education serves the most important educational purpose – becoming a successful college or university student studying in a beautiful campus.

However, there is a reason why people try to create new educational concepts and introduce some innovations – the progress is impossible without this approach. It is possible that these schools are not the best option for many children, but they give us an idea of how we can improve traditional schools to make them more effective. It is crucial to always give students an opportunity to challenge themselves and to feel their own progress – otherwise school does not make any sense. Schools are places that not only have to educate children but also to help them get interested in education.