Understanding Alternative Education & It’s Scope In India

We often forget the tedium of homework, rambling of teachers and red stamps on report cards, in a heady haze of nostalgia, when we think about our school years. However, once you remove those rose-tinted glasses, chances are that uncomfortable questions with respect to the educational system might come up—where it was alright to spend hours thinking about the periodic table but spend little to no time on essay writing. There is no doubt that whenever we talk about education in India, everyone starts complaining about how bureaucratic the system is. However, the upcoming generation of urban parents are evidently evolving and making an effort by enrolling their kids at ‘Alternative Education Academies’ that aim at providing a different environment of learning for students, depending on their capabilities and interests.

Also read: 5 habits that will assure your child’s financial success in future

Many Indian religious and philosophical leaders, like Swami Vivekananda, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Maharishi Yogananda, Satya Sai Baba, have set up schools across the nation that follow alternative ways of teaching.  As we all know, the Right to Education Act has made education compulsory for all children below the age of 14, but our systems haven’t changed much beyond that.

Parents believe that alternative education is complementary to their child’s personality. Jiddu Krishnamurti, a philosopher believes, “Education is not just to pass examinations, take a degree, get a job, get married and settle down, but also to be able to listen to the birds, to see the sky, to see the extraordinary beauty of a tree, and the shape of the hills, and to feel with them, to be really, directly in touch with them.”

As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the only yearly annual source of data on kids’ learning results accessible in rustic India, only 25.1% of the understudies enlisted in standard III can read standard II level content and only 47.8% of the understudies selected in standard V can read standard II level content. The latest report concluded, “Many parents of school-going children do not have any or much education. They understand the importance of schooling but often do not understand how they can support children’s learning. Hence, there is a need to de-mystify learning to involve parents.”

Given that alternative schools have smaller class sizes, children get a lot more individual attention and are free to progress at their own pace. This is made possible because the educationists at such spaces don’t expect all children in a class to be at the same level at the same time; the belief instead is that each child is unique.   

Another aspect of alternative philosophy is that most educators appreciate that the future is largely unknown and that the best we can do is to ensure children can adapt, learn, un-learn and re-learn skills that will help them navigate an ever-changing world. The future can never be ‘mastered’ by getting high grades, as most children are led to believe. It can only be ‘lived’, and therefore mindset is probably more important than anything else in navigating an unpredictable future.

And the facts back this up; students in alternative schools end up doing better than the ones in regular schools.  Most alternative schools don’t follow prescribed textbooks except for language study and mathematics. Teachers are always encouraged to create their own learning material, sometimes involving children too; letting the child understand the process of learning is part of the overall educational process.

The belief is that adhering to textbooks could promote rote learning which is not encouraged; instead teachers find creative ways to make learning more fun and a lot more effective.

These are a list of alternative schools you can read about which are revolutionising the education space:

  • Mirambika Free Progress School
  • Aarambh Waldorf School
  • The Hypnotherapy School of India
  • Edha Education Foundation
  • Manava Bharti International School
  • Indian Institute of Mass Communication

And this list is growing—a hopeful sign that alternative education is more widely accepted today than ever before. We at MyNT share the same ideas and beliefs; check out our website if you want to learn more about giving your child a fulfilling and immersive learning experience.

Is Alternative Education your ‘Next Thing’?

With regards to our school years, we often forget in the heady haze of nostalgia, the tedium of homework, the endless rambling of teachers and the red stamps on report cards – concentrating rather on the pranks, the disciplinary action for ‘talking in class’ and the strolls of disgrace in front of the class to read out the chit you were secretly attempting to pass across to your bestie.

Alternative education

However, once you remove those rose-tinted glasses, chances are, uncomfortable questions with respect to the educational system we experienced in childhood might rise, where it was alright to take such a large number of additional hours understanding why the periodic table worked the manner in which it did, while essay-writing was evidently a little treat.

There is no doubt that whenever we talk about education in India, everyone starts complaining about how bureaucratic the system is. However, the upcoming generation of the urban parents are evidently evolving and making an effort in enrolling their kids with ‘Alternative Education Academies’ that aim at providing a different environment of learning for students, depending on their capabilities and interests.

Also read: 5 habits that will assure your child’s financial success in future

Many religious and philosophical leaders of India like Swami Vivekananda, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Maharishi Yogananda, Satya Sai Baba have also set up schools across the nation with the objective to follow alternative ways of schooling.  As we all know, the Right to Education act has made education compulsory for all children below the age of 14. Having said that, we still don’t see many changes as such in the approach to our education system.

Parents now claim that alternative education brings out the true colors of their child. Jiddu Krishnamurti, a philosopher believes, “Education is not just to pass examinations, take a degree and a job, get married and settle down, but also to be able to listen to the birds, to see the sky, to see the extraordinary beauty of a tree, and the shape of the hills, and to feel with them, to be really, directly in touch with them.”

As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the only yearly annual source of data on kids’ learning results accessible in rustic India, only 25.1 pc of the understudies enlisted in standard III can read standard II level content and only 47.8 pc of the understudies selected in standard V can read standard II level content. The latest report concluded, “Many parents of school going children do not have any or much education. They understand the importance of schooling but often do not understand how they can support children’s learning. Hence, there is a need to de-mystify learning to involve parents.”

India is now gradually evolving towards a greater acceptance towards alternative education. Alternative schools have one very strong belief, ‘each child is unique’. Given that alternative schools are smaller in size, with smaller class sizes, children get a lot more individual attention and are free to move at their own pace. This is made possible because the educationists at such spaces don’t expect all children in a class to level up to one standard.  

Another strong aspect of the philosophy at alternative schools is that most educators appreciate that the future is largely unknown and that the best we can do is to ensure children can adapt, learn, un-learn and re-learn, as that will equip them with the skills and abilities to navigate a world which seems to be changing and evolving at warp speed. The future can never be ‘mastered’ by getting high grades, as most children are led to believe. It can only be ‘lived’, and therefore mindset is probably more important than anything else in navigating a future we can’t predict.

Speaking based on the facts, students in alternative schools end up doing better than the ones in regular schools.  Most alternative schools don’t follow textbooks except for languages and mathematics. Teachers are always encouraged to create their own learning material, sometimes involving children too; letting the child understand the process of learning is part of the overall educational process.

The belief is that adhering to textbooks could get the children into rote learning mode which is not encouraged and to make teachers more independent and creative to impart knowledge.

These are a list of alternative schools you can read about which are revolutionizing the education space:

  • Mirambika Free Progress School
  • Aarambh Waldorf School
  • The Hypnotherapy School of India
  • Edha Education Foundation
  • Manava Bharti International School
  • Indian Institute of Mass Communication

The List continues. This tells us that Peoples’ mindsets are truly evolving and people are positively moving towards the concept of Alternative Education. We at MyNT share the same ideas and beliefs. Browse our website if you want to learn more about out of the box education for your children.