A Canadian photographer found members of the inaugural class of a school with no tests or homework to see the effect that education had.
(Image Source: Behance ) BY JASMINE BAILEY An elementary school with no homework or tests? Probably sounds like a dream for most kids, and it was one that came true in 1972 when Canada’s ALPHA Alternative School opened its doors. ALPHA, an acronym for A Lot of Parents Hoping for an Alternative, bans just about everything a traditional school is all about. (Via ALPHA Alternative School ) With multi-age group classrooms and an emphasis on arts and imagination — the school provides a different way of learning. (Via Youtube / Stephen Cooper ) But what effect does such an environment have by the time those youngsters reach adulthood? Well, as apart of ALPHA’s 40-year anniversary, Michael Barker, a Toronto photographer, caught up with some members of the inaugural class. He took the adult’s portraits and matched them up with pictures from their younger years — also getting interviews about what they are doing now. The goal? To get a “sense of the long-term effects of this radical experiment in cooperative education.” (Via Behance ) Their paths varied. Some are working in home improvement or on cars. Others write, work with computers, or became nurses. (Via Michael Barker ) A writer for the Daily Mail points out that however different their life paths are “many of them followed more right-side-of-the-brain routes.” Also claiming that Barker’s project “shows how an elementary education truly influences someone’s life-path.” But how much of an influence does a more free-flowing school environment actually have? And if it’s a positive impact why don’t all schools follow the same model? ALPHA isn’t the only school to adopt the no homework model — Finland’s school system does the same. And it “surprised the world by ranking No.1 out of about 80 countries for the highest scores on a standardized test evaluating education systems in 2000.” The U.S. usually falls between 15 and 25. (Via The Morning Mast ) But on the flip side, one study done at Indiana University showed that homework, for example, is actually helpful in improving standardized test scores... …Especially in math and science. The author of that study claims that the quality of homework is much more beneficial than the quantity. ALPHA is still going strong today. The school houses grades 3-6 but keeps it exclusive — admitting only about 80 students a year.