In recent decades, the phenomenon of Alternative Schools is rapidly growing. Fueled with the neo-liberal agenda, it is one trajectory aiming at creating alternative public educational solutions to the ongoing public education global crises. So far, several hundred schools have been established in Israel and thousands in the US and the UK. With their focus on specific ideology such as Democratic-schools or on unique Pedagogy such as Montessori/Anthroposophy, they attract parents who wish to give their children educational advantage embodied in the alternative-school’s goals.
It is therefore surprising that there is little empirical data globally and almost no data in the Israeli context supporting the assumption that alternative education goals and practice have a unique impact on graduates of these schools. In other words, we know little about the actual quality and impact of alternative schools, and it is unknown how well they achieve their goals in relation to the desired Alumni Character they aim at.
We have selected four major types of Alternative-schools common in Israel: (1)Democratic-schools; (2)Anthroposophical-schools; (3)Secular-religious Jewish Pluralistic-schools; and (4)Jewish9Arab Pluralistic-schools. Two of these alternative schools (1;2) have broad presentations globally, and two (3;4) are unique to Israel.
In this research over 200 graduates from four different alternatives schools were interviewed. Alongside, a friend of the interviewee who grew-up in the same neighborhood with similar SES but attended ‘regular’ public-school was asked to answer a comparative questionnaire to verify neutralization of external influences.
Paper 1: Democratic Schools Alumni Perceptions
Democratic education is one of the oldest expressions of humanistic and progressive education, one that places the human in the center, examining the student from a holistic point of view and stressing human dignity, pluralism, freedom and active learning. The common definition of democratic education sets its attempt to create a microcosm of democratic society.
It claims that self-actualization and social participation are two sides of the same coin, creating a feedback-loop necessary for optimal democratic society. Therefore, the goal of this research is to examine the magnitude of these goals being attained by the alumni of Israeli Democratic schools and examining their retrospective perceptions regarding schools’ place in forming these very views.
Paper 2: Anthroposophical Schools Alumni Perceptions
Founded early in the 20th century, Waldorf education is based on the writings of Rudolf Steiner. The main principles of Waldorf education are based on a well outlined and disciplined convictions regarding optimal human development, human needs and growth. It aims at cultivating students intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual individual capacities and simultaneously to enhance their commitment to be of service to others and to the world surrounding them.
The goal of this research is to describe, analyze and interpret, from the retrospective viewpoint of graduates, the role of school in developing their cognitive, emotional, moral and spiritual capacities in accordance to the anthroposophical agenda.
Paper 3: Jewish-Arab Pluralistic School’s Alumni Perceptions
Integrated Jewish-Palestinian bilingual schools are schools where Arabs and Jews are deliberately educated together. These schools are believed to promote healing conflict wounds and ease the path towards peace. Bilingual schools in Israel were founded by groups of Jewish and Arab-Palestinian parents who shared the vision of an equitable shared society. Bilingual schools are characterized by joint Jewish-Arab management, co-teaching method of Jewish-Arab teachers, and both Hebrew-Arabic as teaching languages.
A main goal of bilingual education is to educate graduates rooted in their own national-ethnic identities, while at the same time empathetic towards other identities, recognizing legitimacy of other social groups. Our goal is to describe, analyze and interpret, from the retrospective viewpoint of Jewish and Arab graduates of bilingual schools in Israel, the role of the school in developing their identity, perception of the