Alpha II Alternative School is a TDSB grade 7-12 Senior Elementary and Secondary School where students take responsibility for their own learning, participate in adding their point of view to the school community and are accountable to themselves, their family, and the community for what they do.
Our approach to education is modelled after the democratic free-schooling philosophy first popularized during the 1960s by A. S. Neil in his book Summerhill. This model was later redefined as unschooling—learning and teaching that does not resemble school learning and teaching—by John Holt in the 1980s. Recently, in 2014, unschooling was studied for its efficacy by Peter Gray (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201406/survey-grown-unschoolers-i-overview-findings). Other important thinkers who have supported this style of learning in their writing and practice include Ivan Illich, Paolo Friere and John Taylor Gatto.
At Alpha II, self-directed learning and responsibility to community based on consensus are equal foundational pillars. We are one of the very few public democratic free/unschools in Canada so far, but global trends and contemporary education research point to self-directed democratic free-schooling as the future of education.
Each Alpha II student directs their own learning journey. Students decide what they will learn, when, for how long, and with which materials. Teachers act as facilitators and guides to support the students on their individual learning journey.
There are no tests or grades and we do not follow the Ontario Curriculum. As a result, students do not earn credits or work toward an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) as they do in other schools.
In consultation with teachers and other community members, students define their personal goals for education and track their learning by creating a portfolio of work that is meaningful to them. These portfolios document the learning process, goals, and achievements, clearly revealing each student's growth as a learner and community member. Our graduates have successfully used their portfolios to pursue their choice of career or post-secondary education.
It's all about choice in education--choice that you (and your parents) have been asking for, to best respond to personal learning goals. Our approach to learning has been in place at the TDSB since 1972 when our sister school Alpha Alternative Elementary was established. Since 2007 when Alpha II was founded, our approach has been available for students at the senior elementary and secondary school levels.
If you are committed to directing your own learning and participating actively in a community based on consensus, consider applying to our school. Our aim is to support you to be successful in your areas of passion while at school, and give you the tools, both personal and academic, to succeed in life.