“Historically, alternative models of education have coexisted with the public education system ever since its inception in the first half of the 19th century (Raywid, 1999). Attempts by the state to provide a common, culturally unifying education for all children have provoked the response of educators, parents and students who have declined to participate in these systems. Their reasons are manifold, and the forms of schooling (and non-schooling) they designed are equally diverse. “The history of alternative education is a colourful story of social reformers and individualists, religious believers and romantics” (Miller, 2007). In the United States, for example, Horace Mann’s pioneering efforts to centralise public schooling were opposed from the start by religious leaders and other critics who perceived education to be a personal, family and community endeavour, not a political programme to be mandated by the State. Many critics of the public school system referred to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Émile, published in 1762, in which he argued that education should follow the child’s innate growth rather than the demands of society. Throughout the 19th century, education reformers in several countries accused their state school systems of disciplining young people for the sake of political and social uniformity and the success of an emerging industrial society. Bronson Alcott, for example, started the Temple School in Boston as early as 1834 because he rejected the rote memorisation and recitation predominant at early American schools” (Sliwka 2008 pg. 1-2).
o The first decades of the 20th century saw the advent of several alternative education movements that proved to be influential even today. With her influential book The Century of the Child (1909), the Swedish educator Ellen Key was among the first of several advocates of child-centred education. The German education reformers Hermann Lietz, Paul Geheeb and Kurt Hahn founded reformist rural boarding schools (“Landerziehungsheime”) that were meant to provide children with a holistic education secluded from the negative effects of industrial urban life. In 1907, the Italian paediatrician Maria Montessori opened the first Casa de Bambini, a house of elementary education based on her own observations in child development. The first Waldorf school was founded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1919. Because of official criticism of his innovative teaching methods, French educator, Célestin Freinet in 1935 resigned from his job as public school teacher to start his own school in Vence. In North America, John Dewey, Francis Parker and others formed a powerful progressive education movement based on the belief that education should primarily serve the needs of children and focus on understanding, action and experience rather than rote knowledge and memorisation. (Sliwka 2008 pg. 2)”