Three “Anti Exam” Educational Approaches

It’s funny how the USA is trying to dumb down education to be test/exam based while quietly sweeping other more proven forms of education styles under the rug. Mussolini did that to Montessori and Hitler did that to Steiner. Just another instance of history repeating itself. In any case, this isn’t about history but just a plea or expression that developmental education has, again, hit a brick wall. And, this makes it that much harder for our kids including my Ellis from attaining the type of education that fosters, for lack of better description, self actualization.

It’s also interesting to note that most countries that have adopted these “anti exam” education format has ranked in the upper echelon in terms of education index by country. Recently South Korea has taken over the top spot but comes with a cost. South Korea is also ranked as one of the counties with the highest suicide rate. So, although South Korea has a lot of book smarts, they seem to rank quite low in terms of life smarts. And, this is not just South Korea but many other countries that symptomatically trying to increase productivity at the cost of quality of life.


Rudolph Steiner

Emphasis on spirit, body and soul unification.

0-7 years old: learn through imitation and doing imaginary play facilitates physical, emotional and intellectual growth focusing on bodily exploration, constructive and creative play, oral language via story and song and through activities that develop concentration and motivation. Long interrupted imaginary play is encouraged.

7-14 years old: child stay with same teacher in order to develop secure bond or safe haven as launching point to explore other, new subject matters. classmates work together to learn through conscious imagination as “feeling intelligence. Arithmetic are introduced via story format. And, students integrate what they learn into storybooks to store and chronicle their learning process.

14-18 years old: develop abstract power, ethics, social responsibility, master complex subject matters.

Note: Steiner method is also called the Waldorf method named after the geography of origination.



Montessori postulates children have inherent “natural intelligence” that has rational, empirical and spiritual aspects and that children have natural urge to acquire knowledge, seek perfection through work and play. Classrooms are populated with varied aged children with variance of 3.

The absorbent mind is necessary for the child to adapt to their time and place. Each child are born to different cultural surroundings and customs. The infant’s brain soaks information from his/her environment in order to develop the appropriate neural pathways and connections for the child to adapt to his/her environment.

0-3 years old: unconscious absorbent mind – infant is merely reacting to the environment he/she is in.
3-6 conscious absorbent mind – seeks sensory input, regulation of movement, order, freedom to chose activity and explore them deeply without interruption. This is when the child actively tries to make sense of the world.
6-12 explore world and develop rational problem solving, cooperative social relations, imagination and aesthetics and complex cultural knowledge.
12-18 children reconstruct themselves as social beings and are humanistic explorers, real world problem solving and rational seekers of justice.



Malaguzzi developed his educational methods to meet the needs of post WW2 Italy near town of Reggio Emelia to provide kids with structure perhaps for the absence of resources and infrastructure due to post war circumstances. His education is based on relationship where each child in relations to others and seek to activate and support childrens’ relationship with other children, family, teacher and environment. Child becomes producer of culture, values and rights.

Teacher follows the children’s interset and does not provide focused instruction on reading and writing. So, children will learn to communicate their thoughts and ideas through expression of emotion, body language, symbolically before using formal methods. Teaching and learning are negotiated between him and student and long term open ended projects are core of children’s work.

  • Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing;
  • Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore;
  • Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.