Public Schools Vs. Alternative Schooling

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This semester has been extremely informational for me. All the things I always took for granted regarding education, especially primary and secondary were turned upside down and have now become a concern for me. You could connect the dots even and say that this semester has forced me to become more of a critical thinker, and definitely so when it comes to education.

Throughout these modules from Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about how schools have killed creativity in our students all the way to considering alternative schooling, my ideas about school have been challenged and my perspectives have changed. I had never considered home-schooling my daughter before this semester. Yes, I have considered enrolling her in the private parochial school here because the classes are smaller and students who graduate from that school tend to be slightly more prepared for college than students who graduated from the public school here. I suppose I had never taken the time to really ask myself if I wanted to be a teacher in a public school system that I feel is at best helping our students to learn to read and write. Do I really feel like I can make a difference in the school system? If not, will teaching students within the realm of what the government says I can and have to teach them be fulfilling enough for me? I would like to believe that I can teach my students more than just the core curriculum but also how to be critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and lifelong learners and do so while following what the government will allow.

 

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Photo cc by City of Thunder Bay Archives

 

 

In regards to both my daughter’s education and in my career choice to become an educator, I have recently taken an interest in alternative schooling and become interested to find out if one of these types of schools may be beneficial to us. So, I decided to do a little research on my own about these alternatives. I rifled through dozens of articles regarding schools such as Sudbury Valley and Waldorf schools. Most of what I read was positive feedback and some of it came from forums which had been started by parents. I did find a few articles that disagreed with some of the philosophies behind these alternative schooling ideas. One of the main criticisms I came across was that these schools can be costly and therefore not necessarily fair for students who come from disadvantaged homes. Some critics feel that the idea of a democratic system in the schools is not fair to the minority (I happen to agree with them). Then there are those who feel like students need to have some kind of structure in their lives and that these kinds of schools don’t offer them any structure. Although I found the positive thoughts on alternative schooling to outweigh the negative, I have decided that for now, I will continue to send my daughter to the public school and that I will not exclude the public school system from my job prospects later on when I have completed my degree.

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My reasoning for this simply come from the deep sense of belief that I have that when enough people come together with the same desire to change the environment around them, things become possible. Through Twitter and other social media tools, I have discovered that there is a large movement going on to change what and how we teach students. I truly believe that if future educators go into the profession willing to speak out about new pedagogies and about newer, more relevant curriculum that things will begin to change within our public school systems. I hope I can personally be a part of the change that needs to happen.  So, here’s to the future!

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