One can safely assume that all parents have the same goal: that of choosing the best methods for their children to grow into inspired and enthusiastic adults. Helping children develop their highest potential, and taking care of each child’s development is a dream all parents share.
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learnt in school- Albert Einstein
But unfortunately we are often forced to forget this dream, because of circumstances, lack of knowledge, lack of funds, social pressure to pass exams, or simply because ourchildren are surrounded by teachers who are too tired or not very inspiring.
Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learnt in school” leads us to reflect on the possible bottlenecks within the ‘traditional’ schooling system.
When one talks of ‘alternative’ schooling, one immediately starts imagining a school that has created a beautiful, inspiring learning space that nurtures harmony and tranquillity; one thinks of a school that gives enough importance to sports, music and arts.
One thinks of a school that is open to different learning methods, and that goes beyond a national minimum curriculum; one thinks of a school that gives children an opportunity to learn multi-cultural ways of doing things, such as exploring Italian cooking, learning Chinese calligraphy, playing German music, reading Russian classics, creating Japanese ikebana, and so forth.
When one talks of ‘alternative’ schooling, one imagines children returning from school amazed and in awe for what they would have learnt, with a zeal to explore further, with an ability to concentrate and complete their tasks in variouscircumstances.
One imagines a school thatworks on the development of the child’s ‘self’ as much as withtheir understanding of others,that fosters awareness of theinter-connectedness of all living beings, that emphasises the importance of action-based environmental welfare, taking care of the Earth, and animals’ well-being, including, for example, initiatives such as planting trees, cleaning beaches, walking dogs of sanctuaries.
One imagines that the word ‘inspire’ is the middle name of all such schools’ activities.
It may sound like a tall order, but in fact there are thousands of schools all around the world that have experimented with alternative educational methods with some very interesting results.
Rudolf Steiner, founder of one of these alternative education movements, says “our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able, of themselves, to impart purpose and direction to their lives”.
Schools that have adopted his approach promote the use of only natural materials such as wool, wax, wood and cotton; they encourage their students to create their own books, to cook their lunches together, or bake bread; they learn to dance, they learn mathematics through song, and receive their instruction through fables and poems.
Their vision recognises each child’s freedom and possibility to grow; these schools emphasise some golden, albeit forgotten methods, such as teaching children to create their own stories, make their own toys, connect with nature by climbing trees or collecting shells, cooking or making own clothes.
These schools believe that these somewhat forgotten ‘life-skills’ are extremely important for the development of ‘complete’ personalities.
In contrast with ‘fast’ education that creates exam-oriented children, many alternative schools are experimenting with a more holistic approach that uses a mix of tools that develop children’s physical, emotional and intellectual capacities.
If these ideas resonate with you, if you would like the option of having this type of education in Malta, or if you are a parent interested in offering this type of education to your children, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Some characteristics of alternative education
• Multiple intelligences
• Global consciousness
• Creative problem solving
• High levels of social intelligence
• Environmental stewardship
• High levels of emotional intelligence
• Thinkers who think outside the box
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