In education, the phrase alternative school usually refers to a school based on a non-traditional, new, or non-standard educational philosophy. A wide range of philosophies and teaching methods are offered by alternative schools; some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, while others are more ad-hoc assemblies of teachers and students dissatisfied with some aspect of mainstream education.
In the United States, most alternative schools are private or independent schools rather than public schools funded by the state; however, some public charter schools and magnet schools offer benefits similar to those of alternative schools and are inspired by similar ideas.
Types of alternative school
Broad categories of alternative schools include Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, Democratic Schools, and those based on Experiential education. Well-known individual examples include Summerhill School and The Putney School, as well as The Mountain School. The open-classroom philsophy of education, originating in Britain, also has a following among various educational insitutions in the United States.
Alternatives to traditional pedagogy are also pursued beyond secondary school, in university and especially liberal-arts college settings. Alternative college s include Hampshire College, the College of the Atlantic, Bard College, Sarah Lawrence College, and Friends World Program.