Our Beliefs About Education
(By Director John Lackey)
At the Alger Learning Center & Independence High School, we believe that learning is a natural ongoing process, which is best achieved without restrictions, confinements, or limitations. We believe that it is as unnecessary to regulate or standardize learning as it is to regulate or standardize breathing; both are naturally occurring, lifelong processes.
Healthy learning requires freedom- the freedom to learn subjects that are interesting and relevant to one’s own goals, the freedom to learn in a fashion or style that is enjoyable and tailored to fit individual learning styles and rates, and the freedom to choose not only what but how much to study in each subject.
We believe that students deserve trust and the basic freedom to make choices, to put ideas into action, and to grow and learn according to their own individual learning style and goals. Students should be free to pursue topics that are interesting and pertinent to them, and to approach those topics at a comfortable pace in the way they learn best.
When students are allowed to work at their own pace, their understanding and retention of the subject matter increases, and most students find that the rate of learning accelerates. Because we are in operation year-round, and because our programs are self-paced, many of our students complete high school in three years rather than four, and often take college level courses in the high school and even middle school grades.
Alger Learning Center & Independence High School students take part in the design of every class, and have the authority to change and modify their classes without permission or prior approval. We believe that students know when they are learning and when they are not, and should be free to follow their interests and curiosity. By empowering students to take an active role in their own education, we enable them to become successful and self-confident lifelong independent learners.
Our sensitive and professional staff work as facilitators by providing students with guidance and help in designing classes and choosing resources. Students are empowered to choose the topics studied, resources used, rate or pace of learning, and evaluation/ grading method used in each class.
We do not rely on “canned curriculum,” and we encourage students to use alternate resources and methods of study. Students are always welcome to use textbooks and curriculum series, but are also offered a wide variety of creative and challenging alternatives customized to fit their individual needs, skill levels, and interests. We are not a religious school, but students are welcome to choose religious curriculum and subjects. We believe in freedom in learning and our goal is to accomodate all styles and methods of learning.
Our programs are not designed solely for highly capable, motivated independent learners or gifted students, although both excel in our programs. Our goal is to enable all students to experience success as they acquire knowledge with a high degree of self-esteem. The flexible nature of our philosophy enables us to accommodate students with a wide variety of individual educational needs, interests, and learning styles. Our programs are ideal for students who would like more individualized instruction with customized curriculum, based on their own interests and goals.
Other students benefiting from our programs include those with learning differences of various kinds (such as dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder, etc.), students who have fallen behind in the public system due to attendance or other problems, and students who are interested in combining independent learning with global travel and/or employment opportunities.
We support and assist independent learners and homeschoolers, and wholly endorse the concept of unschooling. By truly individualizing their education, we enable our students to become confidant and motivated life-long learners.
Our purpose is to help individuals, regardless of age or previous learning experiences, to identify their personal learning objectives, and assist them as they achieve those objectives with confidence and self-reliance. We believe that all students are capable of achieving success when given the freedom and support to do so, which is usually not possible in the traditional public school setting.
We believe that our unique approach to education for over three decades has been a part of a larger evolving movement, and it is our hope to continue to play a role in the expansion of educational freedom into the future. We believe that all students can experience successful learning, given the freedom to do so in whatever manner works best for them. Since our establishment in 1981, we have seen our non-traditional, student-centered approach provide a springboard for countless children (and their families) to become happy, self-motivated, and enthusiastic independent learners.