Alternative school

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An alternative school is a school that, in contrast to the state mainstream school, has an alternative pedagogical concept and organizes learning “differently than usual”.

School concepts of reform and alternative education

In terms of pedagogy, today's concepts of reform pedagogy are based on models from the early 20th century. Comparable schools emerged around the same time in many parts of the world and are internationally known as the free school movement . The Waldorf schools after Rudolf Steiner , the first school of which was founded in Stuttgart in 1919, are often mentioned in this context ; However, these are based on anthroposophy and therefore represent a mixture of an ideologically oriented school that is more similar to a denominational school and a reform school. There are many similarities, but in some cases very different traditions and concepts. What they have in common is independence from a certain religion or worldview and solidarity in an organization beyond everyday school life. Numerous alternative schools were founded by parents' initiatives in the early 1970s, closely following the previous movement of anti-authoritarian education and its children's shops .


The following examples are usually given for the history of the development of alternative educational schools:

Some developments took place in parallel in different countries. The Casa dei Bambini of Maria Montessori (1907) was the beginning of an idea that in Germany the first Montessori school resulted in 1923 in Jena. Another example is the naturist- reform pedagogical light school home Lüneburger Land near Lüneburg (1927 to 1933).

In the Spanish-speaking world, the Escuela Moderna by Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia (1901) is considered a model. Some independent schools in other countries now also refer to this model. Similar concepts had the Paideia ('School of Anarchy') in Spain (1960s) and the Centro Experimental Pestalozzi (Pesta) in Tumbaco, Ecuador ( Mauricio and Rebeca Wild 1977-2005)

The Freinet pedagogy was developed in the 1920s in France and has spread internationally.

The example of Summerhill - AS Neill's reform pedagogical school in England, founded in 1921 - often serves as a guideline for a “free” to anti-authoritarian education. In this tradition stand Preshil (Melbourne, 1930s), Kirkdale School (London, 1964–1980s). In the Anglo-Saxon region, the Kilquhanity School (Kirkpatrick Durham in Galloway - John and Morag Aitkenhead 1940–1997) and the First Street School in New York ( George Dennison / Mabel Chrystie , USA, 1960s) were established.


In the German-speaking area, the free alternative schools are meant in the narrower sense , most of which have come together in the Federal Association of Free Alternative Schools (BFAS). In 2018, 104 schools belonged to the Federal Association of Independent Alternative Schools. Free school initially only means free (= non-state) sponsored schools (most of them are organized in the Federal Working Group of Free Schools AGFS), but the special importance of self-determined learning and self-organization resonates. Many rules are decided equally by children, young people and adults.

The laboratory school and the upper level college in Bielefeld as well as the Glockseeschule in Hanover are similar to the alternative schools in many respects, but are usually not included as state foundations. The Waldorf schools are also mostly not counted among the alternative schools because of their ideological ties. In the public reporting, mostly only the total number of private schools is considered, which for example also includes denominational schools . The alternative schools are under state supervision with regard to the recognition of school qualifications, although the details are regulated differently in the federal states. Under certain conditions they receive state subsidies.


In Austria there are around 70 reform-pedagogical kindergartens and schools, primarily Waldorf schools , Montessori schools , Pestalozzi schools and learning workshops according to Wild . Free alternative schools (to which the learning workshops and some Montessori schools belong) have organized themselves in the network - the federal umbrella association for self-determined learning .

These schools are anchored in the Austrian education system as statutory schools .

See also


  • Michael Behr (ed.): Schools without compulsion. When parents found schools in Germany (= dtv. Dtv-Sachbuch 10272). Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-423-10272-1 .
  • Manfred Borchert, Karin Derichs-Kunstmann (ed.): Schools that are completely different. Werkschule Berlin, Free School Essen, Free School Frankfurt, Glocksee School Hanover, Tvind School Denmark. Experience reports from practice for practice. With an annotated selection bibliography (= Fischer pocket books. Information at the time 74206). Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-596-24206-1 .
  • Manfred Borchert, Michael Maas (ed.): Free alternative schools. The future of the school has already begun. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 1998, ISBN 3-7815-0951-6 .
  • Peter O. Chott: The development of the math concept and its meaning for the teaching of the (elementary) school. In: PÄDForum. Vol. 11 = 26, H. 4, 1998, ISSN  1611-406X , pp. 390-396.
  • George Dennison: The lives of children. The story of the First Street School (= Vintage Book 638). Vintage Book, New York NY 1970 (In German: Learning and Freedom. From the practice of the First Street School. March Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1970).
  • Lutz van Dick: Alternative schools. Information, problems, experiences (= rororo 7261 non-fiction book. Political education ). Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1970, ISBN 3-499-17261-5 .
  • Maren Gronert, Alban Schraut (Ed.): Handbook of associations of reform pedagogy. Bibliotheca Akademica, Pedagogy Series, Volume 13. Ergon Verlag, Baden-Baden, 2018. ISBN 978-3-95650-459-4 .
  • Hartmut von Hentig: How free are free schools? Expert opinion for an administrative court. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1985, ISBN 3-608-93340-9 .
  • Matthias Hofmann: Past and present of independent alternative schools. An introduction. 1st, new edition. Klemm u. Oelschläger, Ulm 2013, ISBN 978-3-86281-057-4 .
  • Matthias Hofmann (Hrsg.): Alternative schools - alternatives to school. Klemm u. Oelschläger, Ulm 2015, ISBN 978-3-86281-086-4 .
  • Herwart Kemper : How alternative are alternative schools? , ISBN 3-89271-286-7
  • Norbert Scholz (Red.): Free alternative schools. Children go to school. Interior and exterior views. Drachen-Verlag, Wolfratshausen 1992, ISBN 3-927369-05-5 .
  • Heiner Ullrich, Till-Sebastian Idel, Katharina Kunze [eds.]: Exploring the other. Empirical impulses from reform and alternative schools, Wiesbaden 2004

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. We are 100! Retrieved May 6, 2019 .
  2. ^ AGFS website. Retrieved May 6, 2019 .
  3. Federal Statistical Office - Private Schools - Fachserie 11 series 1.1 - school year 2017/2018. Retrieved May 6, 2019 .
  6. ^ EC Zach: Independent schools. Network, September 21, 2008, accessed on October 24, 2008 (Directory of Austrian Reformed Education Schools).