Today, instead of tackling the huge list of items on my ‘to do’ list, I decided to look up the word ‘alternative’ in the dictionary. I was just thinking about alternatives: alternative life styles, alternative medicine, alternative schooling. So, I looked up the word ‘alternative’ at dictionary.com. The online dictionary has a number of definitions of the word ‘alternative.’ The one that I thought fit was: “employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas, methods, etc.; existing outside the establishment: an alternative newspaper; alternative lifestyles.” O.K., I knew that. But what I found more interesting was the synonym for ‘alternative,’—‘choice.’
I think we should all have as many choices as possible, and especially when referring to the way we lead our lives or raise our children. We now have alternative farmer’s markets, organic food and health stores. We have alternative medicine, chiropractics, acupuncture, message therapy, oriental medicine and so much more. We have Montessori schools that ‘follow the child’ and well done, are extraordinarily successful in creating an alternative environment for children. We have Waldorf schools that ‘unite head, heart and hand’ and are also very successful working with the whole child. What about us adults?
I’m thinking a learning community might be very revitalizing and a refreshing alternative. Right now, I get up every morning, go to work, take care of the house, the laundry (my husband does the same), family errands and more. My life is fairly traditional and over-scheduled. I think about creating alternative schools that not only change the way a child experiences his/her day, but a fresh way of living for family and community. We did that when my kids were young and growing up…but creating an alternative community for us and our grown-up children is a little more challenging. I’m not referring to community colleges or adult education. I mean, a true alternative learning community where we support each other and figure alternative ways to live and grow. I think we could rethink this and create adult learning communities everywhere. If done well, it could be a nice, healthy, alternative life choice for us all.
Alternative schooling has been around forever. There was a time when alternative schooling meant a general education (the 3R’s, reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic’) instead of learning to farm or a mastering a craft or trade. ‘Traditional’ public education only started in 1852. It is relav