For anyone that is unfamiliar with the difference between regular curriculum and alternative curriculum. It is simple, an alternative curriculum is one that differs from the national or provincial curriculum that is given to other students. The next question is why would someone change what is taught and why are some kids getting taught one thing while others are getting taught something different.
Although a national curriculum is a great concept, everyone learning the same thing, the same year, so on and so forth, which allows us to keep everyone on track. It is unrealistic to think that the same things that affect a child on the east coast affect children in the middle of the country and on the west coast. It is also irresponsible for teachers to assume that students in the same geographic location will learn the same or that we can teach them all the same. So the question is then what?
Curriculum should be based on three main concepts: subject matter, society and student, however many educators know that many times something is left out. Many times curriculum designers develop programs that are inadequate because they fail to incorporate or are unable to incorporate all three focus areas. For those of us that teach special education we know what is left out, it is the student. So what do we do, well we create an alternative curriculum.
I believe that we create an alternative curriculum most often to avoid permanently excluding students from school. To make a program that increases student engagement by focusing on their interests. This means designing programs towards a similar characteristic or need for the students in a given class. The question is how, and that is going to be different for each teacher depending on where they are and the make up of their classrooms.
Here is a example of a teacher who, created an alternative classroom, catering her lesson, especially in this case to the needs, abilities and back grounds of her students.
Like Erin, I believe that a course or curriculum should work on the competences of your students. These are their ability to learn and manage information, their ability to manage situations and lastly to relate to people. I also strongly believe that there are two specific areas that should be incorporated into any alternative curriculum, actually they should be incorporated into all curriculum and they are Character Education and leadership.
Before I leave you I will tell why I so strongly believe in make changes and creating an alternative program. A different program often leads to cooperation between students and staff, but more importantly it improves and develops better relationships. Changing perceptions of Unteachable to Misunderstood.