Both images above: The Montessori method is taught around
the world and takes a very 'hands-on' approach
With an emphasis on independent thinking, individual development and creativity, Montessori is certainly a step away from the mainstream, but with 20,000 schools teaching this method world-wide, the proof seems to be in the pudding.
The Montessori teaching approach was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian doctor and teacher. She opened the first school to adopt this method in 1907 and while there are only 200 Montessori schools in Australia at present, as the demand grows, more premises are opening. Most Montessori schools in Australia are for the pre-school years, such as in Sydney’s Mosman, where the Bond Street Montessori Early Learning Centre for 2 to 6 year olds is located, or Momentum Montessori in Rosebud, Victoria. However, if you are prepared to extend yourself distance-wise, there are some secondary schools also using the Montessori methods. These include Brisbane Montessori School in the delightfully-named Fig Tree Pocket, Queensland, which caters to children from toddler right through to secondary school.
There are Montessori councils in most continents throughout the world including Asia, Europe, America and of course Australia, from where you can get details of accredited Montessori teaching institutions where-ever you end up
Another alternative approach to education can be found in Steiner Schools, also known as Waldorf Schools. There are only 60 schools adopting this method throughout Australia, so it can be more difficult to give children a consistent education from preschool through secondary. The Steiner method is predominantly applied in preschools, of which there are 3100 worldwide as opposed to only 850 schools. It is much more predominant in Europe and America and has a negligible influence in Aisa. However, the Steiner principle has been involved in much world-wide change for good, and so there seems to be a lot said for their approach of ‘head, heart and hands’, or academic, artistic and social. The Novalis Institute, a Waldorf college in Cape Town, was described by UNESCO as having “prepared the way and laid the foundations for a new and integrated [community]” in relation to its efforts to dispel apartheid. While In Israel both Jewish and Arab faculties are included in the Harduf Kibbutz Waldorf School, which has done a lot to foster acceptance between the two cultures.