The Montessori educational philosophy seems to be the closest to what I have in mind. It has children of different ages working together, encourages choice and independence for the child, and of course is more focused on development of the child over any specific skill set, let alone memorization of facts.
Montessori is not widely embraced, or, at least, it seems that it is not widely understood. Out here in San Francisco some people have heard of it, but many have not and those who have heard of it rarely know what it is all about unless they have a child in a school (even then they can be hard pressed to describe it).
This may be one of the few issues I have with Montessori. Unfortunately I don’t yet completely understand why it is this way. I also understand it to be fairly expensive to run a Montessori school, but again I’m not sure why that is. I’d like to understand these facets of Montessori more, along with the intricacies of how it works as I think there is a lot to be learned from their methods.
I have a gut feeling that I’m also going to find a population of people who are so beholden to one set of ideas as to not be willing to explore any new ideas. I don’t think this will be universally true, but I’m guessing on average there will be more push back than embracing of new ideas.
The environment that we face today is vastly different then the environment that people faced when Maria Montessori developed her ideas around 1907. Child development probably has not changed that much, though, so I’m guessing there’s a lot of great insight within the Montessori philosophy. Now if I can only find a way to dig in to it. Hopefully I’ll be able to find enough resources on the Internet, but I’m worried that there’s a bit of a closed wall around Montessori (if that’s the case then that’s another big issue).