Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deed Poll for Alternative Education

Herbert Kohl made a comment in his keynote at AERO that we need to stop using the term "alternative education" as it doesn't do the movement any justice. That was in june and it has taken me just about two months to really absorb that, shake it up and make something new out of it. (Unfortunately that metaphor was headed a bit south, so I have elected to stop it right there.) Suffice to say, I think he's absolutely right (about that) and I am taking his not-necessarily-"kind"-advice and I am changing how I refer to the movement for educational reform.

You see even though "alternative education" functions wonderfully well as a quasi umbrella term for all forms of other-than-(so called)-traditional methods, the word alternative tends to make some implications that may not necessarily be true. Think about terms like:

  • Alternative Medicine
  • Alternative Lifestyles
  • Alternate route (DETOUR?!?! Grrr. Ugh!)
  • Alternative School

For a person like me who thinks of myself as a haphazard non-conformist, it's not a heavy word. I get it. I even like to see it. "What's this? Alternative bandaids? ? Yes please!"

But for our brothers and sisters entrenched - steeped - in tradition, that A word is a bit off-putting. They think of tie-dye and armpit hair. Both very neutral things mind you, but the word associations... well.

So. Getting on with it!

I believe that what is happening in the alternative education realm - from Montessori to Democratic Education and everything in between - is really a form of Progress. These are innovative approaches to learning and schooling. They are advanced methodologies seeking to meet the needs of the coming generation and all the ills they will inherit from their forebears.

In my mind, this movement is now known as:

"Progressive Education"

What do you think?  Progressive, no?  Maybe not THE most ORIGINAL name ever or anything but it feels better in my mouth and my mind because "progressive" is moving forward, where "alternative" is a peripheral choice that you could live without.  

Let's here your thoughts...

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