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EDUCATION REFORM 3

This website contains various summaries of some of the most important and influential books that have been written on topics pertaining to education reform, and includes reviews of books written by such prominent authors as John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, and Alfie Kohn.  These books elaborate upon some of the major themes that arise in our education and school reform websites, and will add to our readers' understanding of the current state of our school system.  Though it will be highly beneficial to read these reviews, we recommend that, if a particular summary peaks your interest, you read that book in its entirety.  By doing so, the depth of your understanding will be dramatically increased.

A Different Kind of Teacher: According to John Taylor Gatto, the problem with our schools is not that we have bad teachers, bad parents, or bad administrators, but rather, that we have an underlying institutional flaw.  The present educational system is built upon a foundation of coercion and control.

Dumbing Us Down - The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling: John Taylor Gatto, a former New York State Teacher of the Year, exposes the fallacies of compulsory education.  Remember, prior to 1850, mandatory 'schooling', in the traditional sense of the word, didn't even exist in the United States.

Rich & Happy: A review of the book entitled "If You Want to Be Rich and Happy, Don't Go to School" by Robert T. Kiyosaki, which argues that our present school system's claim that it helps young people grow into adults who will realize the 'American Dream' is bogus.  Rather than evolve with the world, our educational system clings to obsolete practices.

Punished by Rewards: Alfie Kohn explains how rewards systems destroy peopleís intrinsic motivation for learning - i.e. the pure love of a subject - and replace that with extrinsic motivation.  This tool is used to control students, and intensifies the imbalance of power that exists between children and their teachers.

Freedom and Beyond: In the book by this name, John Holt stresses that reforming our educational system means changing our conception of education, rather than simply modernizing schools and buying more equipment.  In going beyond educational reform, the book also addresses the issue of schooling and its relation to poverty.

How Children Learn
In this book, John Holt rejects the idea that children are "monsters of evil" who must be beaten into submission or computers whom "we can program into geniuses."  Neither are they the passive receptacles of knowledge that can only learn in a schoolroom.  Instead, he calls upon parents and educators to "trust children."

Deschooling Our Lives: Matt Hern presents a compilation of short essays by deschooling parents, advocates, and educators.  He discusses the various aspects of alternative schooling, ranging from the philosophies of its original supporters to representatives from modern alternative schools.

You Know What They Say... : The Truth About Popular Beliefs  Using humor and armed with expert studies Alfie Kohn attempts to question some of most basic beliefs on a variety of subjects.  Kohn's synthesis and critique of various studies whose attempts at science are often times dubious-prove for some surprising results.

Family Matters - Why Home schooling Makes Sense: David Gutersonís case for home schooling.  Unlike the public school system, home schooling offers a child-centered curriculum that promotes the childrenís pursuit of their interests.  Rather than impose their expectations of education on their children, parents allow their children to take the initiative in the learning process by guiding them in the right direction.

The Case Against Competition: Alfie Kohn exposes the "myths of competition" and explains how such beliefs thrive in our classrooms, pitting one student against another, bolstering insecurity, and damaging self esteem.

How Children Fail: Drawing on his observations of modern education, John Holt concludes that our school system produces feelings of boredom, fear, humiliation, and confusion and predestine our children for failure.

 Beyond Discipline: Kohn challenges traditional assumptions about classroom management and control that have dominated the school system for decades, and advocates a democratic classroom, in which students direct the course of their own education.

The Unschooling Handbook: A book by Mary Griffith that will teach you "How to Use the Whole World as Your Childís Classroom."  Present day Americans have difficulty imagining an education that takes place outside of the walls of the school.  Griffith provides the blueprint for just that: and education that isnít confined to the classroom.

 Flow:  The Psychology of optimal Experience: A book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which describes the concept known as flow.  This term refers to the feeling that makes an experience genuinely satisfying; or a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity.  Basically, flow equates to happiness.  At present, our present school system all but prohibits students from experiencing this sensation.

 Learning All the Time: John Holt explains how the present school system treats students as passive beings, who are waiting to be taught subject matter by their teachers or other adults. This couldn't be further from the truth.  Children are naturally scientists, writers, thinkers, and problem solvers.  And living is a powerful learning process in itself.  School impedes this process.

 Growing Without Schooling: John Holt's compilation of the first twelve issues of the publication "Growing Without Schooling" is a record of the grass roots education movement, which includes information on relevant legal concerns, home schooling methods, and studies of both current and past alternative education movements.

Challenging the Giant: This book by Mary Leue captures the unique characteristics, the philosophy of independence, and the creative methods which have defined the alternative education system for nearly four decades.

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