ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION – Teaching with a Difference
Alternative education is defined as a teaching methodology encompassing pedagogical approaches different from the conventional system employed in the mainstream schools. It is synonymous to the ‘student centred’ method of learning. Educators also use terms such as ‘holistic’ and ‘progressive’ to describe alternative education.
The reason for alternative education to become popular is because the ‘one shoe fits all’ concept currently applied does not really work; it is counterproductive in this current day and age. Rote learning, stressful study environment, exam oriented learning, fear based methods – all these lead to a problem called ‘Mistake-Phobia’ as mentioned by Robert T. Kiyosaki in his book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’.
This damages the student’s latent intelligence and potential. Although this method seemed effective in by-gone years, it is not viable in the 21st century. Research done on pedagogical, psychological and cognitive learning reveals that children are much more capable than perceived when put in the right study environment.
The Star newspaper report dated 10th March 2017 says “As of Q1 this year, Malaysia has 71,589 students enrolled in such schools in the country, followed by Thailand (64,928 students) and Singapore (63,789). Indonesia and Vietnam complete the top five with 57,402 and 40,003 students. Student enrolment in international schools has gone up by 33.9% over the last four years across the (South East Asian) region.” Clearly, parents are choosing alternative venues for their children’s education.
The solution is an alternative education methodology via multi-disciplinary approaches i.e. through audio-visual means, tactile experiences and educational excursions. This approach also helps kids to overcome their own challenges to learning in a down to earth manner so that they perform better in their studies.
Accelerated learning systems have also come to the fore where children spend less time in the classroom but more time being kids and enjoying all that life has to offer. Application of memory aids, use of mnemonic devices, speed-reading exercises, relaxation and breathing techniques, mind-mapping skills, mathematical techniques and cohesive right-brain left-brain learning styles are some examples.
The fact that each child is a personality with unique cognitive abilities has been more or less ignored in most traditional schooling systems. The way a child uses his or her cognitive modalities i.e. through visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or logical states, to acquire knowledge is attended to in alternative education.
The four modalities are identified, corrected and tuned to enhance the child’s academic abilities. This unique approach in acquiring knowledge and skill sets are necessary to succeed in life.