The new buzz words in education are traditional school setting and alternative school setting. What do these things mean? What does it all mean? Will it benefit our children? Where do we look to find examples? Is this a passing craze or the wave of the future?
In the past, most classrooms were set up as lecture style. The teacher and chalk board (old school term) were at the front of the class room while students sat in rows and faced her as she taught the class. Most elementary school teachers taught a variety of subjects and students did not move from class to class as they do now. There was also discussion time built in. In High schools, subjects were more specialized and educators were allowed to go more in depth with their particular subject. Children were immersed in learning throughout the day. As students progressed through their school years, more and more work was added to each day and each subject. Depending upon the district and state, certain educational markers needed to be met by a certain time within the school year. These markers did not factor in the children who learned at an accelerated pace not the students who were not successful in the lecture style classroom. At the end of the day, teachers taught and children were to learn and this all worked for the traditional student. But students who did not fit neatly into a box were left out in the cold or to fend for themselves. Before ADHD had a medical diagnosis, children were called hyperactive and undisciplined. 30 years ago, any level of autism fell under the category of mental retardation and such was the case for many other developmental delays and disorders. No one knew how to teach these non-traditional students. Traditional class rooms were so much a part of education, no one thought that the set up of a room could ever be part of a larger problem.
An alternative school setting is the polar opposite of a traditional school setting. Where traditional classrooms are set up for lecture style learning and some discussion afterwards, alternative classrooms allow students to discuss as they learn and let them discover more-so than the teacher informing them of what they need to know. Instead of book work or busy work, students are challenged with hands on experiences that allow them to decode, decipher and process information differently than the traditional student. Alternative school settings and classrooms foster collaboration, innovation and imagination which in turn is still a lifelong love of learning in students. For those children that did not thrive in rigidly structured traditional settings the freedom and ability to experience learning in a new way increases their success rate in ways educators never really dreamed of.
So now research is showing that all children do not learn the same way or in the same type of environment.
As alternative school settings become more popular, so do other methods of educating our children. Parents are now actively seeking help so that their children do not fall between the cracks of a traditional system. In recent years, parents have begun to investigate other methods of education like Montessori schools and college preparatory academies. And newer school settings began to surface like charter schools, home-schooling, online learning programs and classical christian schools.
At KnILE, children are excited to enter a warm, inviting, learning environment where desks are not in rows facing a teacher who will lecture to them on a particular subject. Children are allowed to snack as they learn and to dress comfortably. Soft music is always playing in the background and the lighting is far from the harsh lights found in some traditional schools. In fact, the atmosphere described is not traditional at all. It works well for the children of KnILE Center. These children are not only learning and loving to learn, they are thriving!