One very popular type of alternative education is the Montessori school. Most people have probably heard this term, even if they don’t know exactly what it means or entails. The Montessori method of teaching was started by Dr. Maria Montessori. She was the first woman in Italy to earn her physician’s degree and she developed a new educational model.
She used her method with folding tables and other basic supplies to teach 50 poor students near Rome in 1907. She did not believe that children were born as “blank slates” but that they were fully capable of self-directed learning. She believed that children needed long blocks of time when they could concentrate and the school allows for student-driven learning while the teacher is more of an observer.
She believed strongly in tactile learning and the classroom materials would include many items to touch and use. The method is one that is entirely non-competitive and has no grades, tests or other formal assessments.
Today, this method is used in about 5000 schools in the US and studies have found that students at these schools have higher levels of self-confidence, better social skills and better academic skills when they finish their early learning years here.