Philosophy and Guiding Principles

Sharing Education

Since 1972, The ALPHA Community has been unique in its approach to helping children “acquire the knowledge, skills, and values they need to become responsible members of a democratic society”.  We believe that, in order to nurture democracy, school must become “a genuine form of active community life, instead of a place set apart in which to learn lessons” (Dewey).


Learner-Centered Education

Our approach belongs firmly to the long tradition of learner-centered education that sees a child’s curiosity as the primary driver for knowledge acquisition. We acknowledge and appreciate each child’s natural desire to become competent and participate in the greater world; then we do our best to support that desire.

We respect learning as intrinsic to living: learning is part of everything we do. Every time we assemble to play, plan, design or redesign; every time we care for our bodies or our environment; every time we travel or build or sit still and dream, together or individually, we are all engaged in a learning process. It could be as simple as learning the difference between upper and lower case letters or as complicated as understanding the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth; either way the opportunities for gaining knowledge are everywhere.

We understand that we all are learning at our own pace in our own way, and that we learn most thoroughly when we are able to do so in an environment full of acceptance. In our non-competitive environment, learning is both social and individual; personal and cooperative. Just as literacy educator Paulo Freire emphasized the importance of “dialogue… as an indispensable component of the process of both learning and knowing.” so do we acknowledge the many opportunities for learning in simple conversation.

Each individual at ALPHA is encouraged to bring their energy and skill set to the learning environment in their own unique way. The teachers bring their knowledge and wisdom to offer those eager for guidance and those who prefer to plot their own paths with equal vigour. Parents and outside volunteers visit regularly (sometimes daily or weekly) to establish programming and/or support programming and/or individual development.


Innovative Pedagogies

It is the manner of learning, not so much the subjects learned, that sets us apart from the bulk of Ontario public elementary school environments. Teachers continually research a wide variety of innovative and progressive pedagogies. Perhaps Ayers’ definition of curriculum best describes our approach: “curriculum is an ongoing engagement with the problem of determining what knowledge and experiences are most worthwhile. With each person and each situation, that problem takes on unique shadings and different meanings.”


The Importance of Consensus

ALPHA is a democracy based on consensus. Consensus is achieved when different points of view are incorporated through discussion. The goal is not compromise but refinement of a proposal until everyone can live with the decision. Each person doesn’t have to agree with the decision–often consensus is achieved when those who disagree feel that the proposal highly valued by most of the community, that risks are minimized and/or managed, and that other possible options have been thoroughly considered. What is most important to achieving consensus is that everyone’s voice is heard and they feel part of making the decision.


Through daily interactions, we all learn together what English educator A. S. Neill referred to as the vital difference between “freedom and license”. Through daily interactions we strive to full understand what it means to nurture respect for each other and for ourselves as well. Daily life offers many opportunities for adults, as well as children, to question or to be questioned and just as many to celebrate and be celebrated; we appreciate them all.

Virtual Open House February 9, 6pm

Meet with staff, parents and kids for a friendly introduction to all things ALPHA. Explore “a day at ALPHA”, learn about the Parent Group and the various Committees that help

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ALPHA is: Addressing Anti-Asian Racism

Our very own Emily Chan was involved in this thoroughly insightful and educational document! Thank you, Emily, for your consistent persistence in promoting social responsibility and social justice! ADDRESSING ANTI-ASIAN

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