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Can the 'Not-School' Movement Help Kids Re-Engage with Learning?

Can the ‘Not-School’ Movement Help Kids Re-Engage with Learning?

In a new paper, Australian researcher Dr. Thomas Stehlik asserts that the alternative educational approach known as the “not-school” movement can lead to greater learning outcomes for children who are struggling in traditional school.

The not-school movement encompasses all educational programs that occur outside of the school environment, including anything from art activities to relaxed styles of home schooling. Often unstructured and informal, not-school learning can be delivered by adult educators, youth workers, community developers and parents.

Stehlik said the growing movement is challenging the confines of traditional schooling because the one-size-fits-all solution for modern education is not working.

“Compulsory schooling is considered a basic responsibility of civil society, yet for many young people, school is a narrow experience that can restrict their potential,” Stehlik says. “We need to start looking at education from the perspective of the student.”

“The not-school movement is all about encouraging different educational initiatives and practices that ‘think outside the box’ to provide young people with positive education experiences that they enjoy.”

Echoing the findings of Australia’s 2018 Gonski Report, Stehlik said today’s mass approach to education is outdated and despite long-term calls for change, little change has occurred. Businessman and public figure David Gonski chaired the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, which looked at the evidence and recommended how school funding should be used to improve school performance and student outcomes.

“Young people have different individual learning needs and talents, but when we try and fit everyone under the same standard schooling model, it doesn’t work,” said Stehlik, a longtime researcher on the faculty of the University of South Australia in Adelaide.

“Different educational experiences can provide options for those who do not respond well in traditional school environments, including alternative career and post-school pathways; as well as contributing to an improved sense of identity and well-being.”

“Just think of the gap year. One in four young Australians take a gap year post-secondary schooling; it’s essentially formal time out of study, yet is looked upon positively as a means to gaining real world experience.”

Stehlik said we need to think more broadly about how we education our children, particularly given the growing demand for innovation and creativity and other ’21st Century skills’ that by definition require unconventional teaching approaches.

“Given the increased use of flexible and online learning methodologies, it is surprising that more alternatives to face-to-face classroom teaching are not being considered,” Stehlik says.

“Innovation is considered critical for the sustained success business, but this starts with education. If we’re not being inclusive of those young people who do not fit the convention, we could be overlooking a whole sector of creative and alternative thinkers. We know that one educational size does not fit all. It’s time to ask ourselves ‘What else can we do?'”

The paper is based on a chapter of Stehlik’s new book, “Educational Philosophy for 21st Century Teachers,” which offers an in-depth analysis and review of alternative education options and questions our current approach to schooling and the traditions upon which it is based.

His findings were presented recently at the Education and New Developments 2018 Conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Source: University of South Australia


Can the ‘Not-School’ Movement Help Kids Re-Engage with Learning?

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Can the ‘Not-School’ Movement Help Kids Re-Engage with Learning?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Jul 2018 (Originally: 23 Jul 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Jul 2018
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