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What are the Different Types of Alternative Teaching Methods?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are quite a few different types of alternative teaching methods available for students, and the most common types often depend on the forms of schools around a person. Montessori schools are among the most common and well-known alternative educational institutions, especially in the US, though they are primarily utilized for younger students. Home schooling is also an increasingly popular option for those interested in alternative education and teaching, and there are numerous advantages and drawbacks to such an education. There are also forms of alternative teaching that blend traditional teaching with other methods, such as those that incorporate “off-campus” education into a standard curriculum.

Alternative teaching typically refers to methods of teaching and learning that go beyond “traditional” pedagogies in which students sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher lecture. One common form of teaching in this manner is done at Montessori schools, named after Maria Montessori, whose work formed the basis for the approach used in these schools. The Montessori Method typically allows students, especially younger children, to engage in self-motivated learning. Montessori’s research indicated to her that children have a natural motivation to learn, and this strives to let students learn through self-discovery and motivation in the manner that is most effective for them.

Home schooling is another popular form of alternative teaching, which involves students staying at home to learn, rather than attending classes. This type of education typically involves one or both of the parents teaching a child, often with assistance from books and websites that guide lessons. One of the major advantages of this type of education is that it allows for a more personal and private experience for a learner, and an education that is designed around his or her needs and understanding. This can have negative consequences regarding students’ abilities to develop social skills, however, and can eliminate opportunities for new experiences found in a classroom.

There are also alternative teaching methods that combine traditional education with non-traditional practices. Some schools, for example, have begun utilizing “off-campus” programs to augment the classroom experience. Students in this type of program are more likely to take field trips to see the principles and ideas they learn about in the classroom applied in a real world setting. This type of alternative teaching is especially popular and successful in technical schools or trade schools, where students learn practical skills and then put those skills to use in professional environments.

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Discussion Comments

By icecream17 — On Oct 17, 2011

@Mutsy - My friend was a public school teacher that often had transfers from Montessori programs and the problem that she saw with this learning style was that the curriculum was child-led. This makes the child responsible for their learning, not the school or the teacher.

She said it was fine if the child was a self starter and really wanting to learn a lot of things, but what about if the child is a slacker that is not motivated by school. She said that in her experience some of these kids had a hard transition because they had to adapt to a system that was not customized like the Montessori program was. They had to be able to do what everyone else was doing and some of these students had difficulty keeping up.

By mutsy — On Oct 16, 2011

@Sneakers41 - I think that with the right set of circumstances, homeschooling would be a great choice, but it is not right for everyone. The parent has to be highly motivated and very active in the child’s education which is not always the case.

I prefer traditional schooling instead. I have a friend that has her daughter in a Montessori school for the past few years and she is thrilled with the results.

She said that her daughter learned to read really fast and was given a lot of creative projects that she absolutely loves. She knows that this learning style is a perfect match for her daughter. She says that the learning is more meaningful because it is tailored specifically to her child.

By sneakers41 — On Oct 16, 2011

There are really a lot of advantages to homeschooling. Many parents that are not happy with the school district in their area might consider this option. I actually taught both of my children how to read before they started school and it was really gratifying.

I think that because a parent can give undivided attention and can customize the curriculum to fit their child’s learning style that children might actually learn more than in a traditional classroom.

If I were not so happy with my children’s private school, I would have no problems with homeschooling. There was a great book on homeschooling by Jessie Wise that is called, “The Well-Trained Mind”.

It gives parents so many resources and the author also tells parents that they can use the book as a resource to set up their complete homeschool curriculum or if some parents want to supplement their children’s education that they receive at school it will work for them too.

It really makes the parents take charge of their kid’s education and not leave it up to the school to do all of the work. She also offers suggestions on activities that kids can partcipate in so that they can socialize with other kids.

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