Notes from the Field: Collaborative projects about alternative education by Michael Barker and Ariel Fielding. These projects include Alpha Alternative School 1972/2012 and the serial project Fieldwork: Talking with Teachers in Alternative Schools. Alternative education, in the way we understand the term, draws on a range of philosophies outside the educational mainstream, such as free schooling, democratic schooling, and unschooling.

Ariel Fielding

Ariel Fielding is a performing arts producer, documentarian, and applied ethnomusicologist who received her early education at ALPHA Alternative School starting in 1974; hers is the family with the longest attendance in the history of the school. She returned to ALPHA first in 2008–2009 to work with the youngest students, and again in 2011–2012 as a member of the organizing committee for the school’s 40th anniversary. Free schooling, with its emphasis on equality, has influenced Ariel’s work of honouring and amplifying minority voices in the performing arts, and educating and engaging new audiences. ALPHA gave her a foundational sense of belonging to a strong, vibrant, and diverse community, a model she seeks to replicate wherever she goes. Ariel holds a Master of Music degree from the University of London; is a past Fellow and Research Associate at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; and works as the Marketing Director of Duke Performances at Duke University.

Michael Barker

Michael Barker is a Toronto-based photographer and graphic designer. He attended ALPHA Alternative School in the 1970s, followed by Horizon Alternative Senior School (Grades 7–8), City School (Grades 9–12), and The Student School (OACs) before studying sculpture and installation at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Currently he is working on a collaborative project with writer Ariel Fielding, exploring the history and future of alternative schools in Toronto, and a large-scale project exploring apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes in popular culture.