5 Alternative teaching approaches

There are so many schools today, and all of them use the same approaches when it comes to some important aspects of teaching. Some schools opt for alternative approaches which bring fantastic results. Here are 5 interesting teaching approaches private schools might want to switch to.


Harkness is a teaching method which is not based on a specific curriculum, but rather on a large oval table. This approach was developed by Edward Harkness, an oil magnate and a philanthropist. What makes this approach special is that all of the students sit at the table together with their teacher and discuss a variety of topics. Every students can give his opinion on topic and then his opinion is discussed. Harkness approach offers an alternative to a traditional classroom setup where a teacher lectures in front of a blackboard while all the students are seated at their desks.


Sudbury approach gets its name from the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts. This is a school that operates under tenets of democracy and individuality. Both of these principles have not appeared in other in other approaches. Sudbury approach encourages students to design a curriculum, as well as to choose whether they are going to be evaluated. Students get a vote in any important matters, such as how should the school invest money and whether hew staff should be hired. All other students and staff members get a vote which counts equally.

Reggio Emilia

Loris Malaguzzi developed this approach soon after World War 2 and named it after his hometown in Italy. It is an approach developed specifically for the children between the ages of 3 and 6. The approach is based on children being surrounded by self-guided learning environment. Malaguzzi claimed that we do not have to give children ready-made answers, but only guide them towards the right ones. In this approach, there is no curriculum and classrooms are designed to look and feel more like home. Art teachers also play an important role in Reggio Emilia approach as art is one of the things this approach focuses on.


Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner developed this approach influenced by Goethe and Jean Piaget. The approach is based on the thesis that teaching should be focused on the “whole child”, meaning that teaching should concentrate on students’ body, soul, and spirit. His first Waldorf School was founded in 1919 in Stuttgart. The curriculum lasted 12 years and was aimed at preparing children for life. According to this approach, children should not be taught academic material until the age of 7. Before they reach this age, they should only be encouraged to interact with environment and socialize. In the last 20 years, the approach remained unchanged and is still being used.


In the approach developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, teaching is based on the philosophy that children should be encouraged to learn in their own ways. Montessori approach encourages individuality and independence, meaning that teachers design the curriculum according to the students’ progress and previous knowledge. Classrooms in the schools that use this approach are “child-centric”. They are full of hands-on material that can help children to acquire new information. Students are encouraged to interact with each other and to use their own pace when learning. More and more schools opt for the Montessori approach and they have been reporting positive results.

All of these programs offer some alternative ways to pass knowledge to the children. It is up to schools to choose the one that will suit them best. Parents are advised to learn which approach is being used before signing their children up in a school and do some research on it.



Diana Smith


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