Synopses & Reviews
American education is in crisis. While we look to Finland or South Korea for models of success, progressive education has been forging creative thinkers in the United States for over one hundred years. The longtime head of Park Day School, Tom Little--before being diagnosed with lethal cancer--went on a national tour of progressive schools to bring their combined educational knowledge together in this, his life's work. As Little and journalist Katherine Ellison show, progressive educators help children develop twenty-first-century skills by emphasizing critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration. Progressive educators teach across disciplines, design lessons inspired by the students' interests, and use hands-on learning. Little and Ellison introduce us to students galvanized by real-world learning experiences such as creating businesses to sell student-made goods for charity, and they describe how progressive teachers work to awaken youths' sense of social justice, engaging them with issues in their community and beyond.
"This is the book we've all been waiting for: a vision of what schools can do to guide children to become happy and engaged learners, productive and creative workers, and active, caring citizens." Madeline Levine, PhD, New York Times best-selling author of Teach Your Children Well
"Tom Little is a visionary champion of progressive education at a time when American children are more in need of its enlightened methods than ever. His book is provocative, educational, and full of wisdom and heart." Deborah Meier, educator and MacArthur Award recipient
"In , Tom Little and Katherine Ellison take us on a pilgrimage, bound for a truthful place in the midst of the fog of war that surrounds our current discourse on American education. Equipped with the keen eye, the willing spirit, the curious mind, and the open heart that made him a transformative educator and a remarkable man, Tom [or 'Little'] guides us along the stations of a journey aimed to discover, recover, and reaffirm, among so much noise and obscurity, the steadily burning flame of Progressive Education, the most profound, the most far-reaching, and the most truly of educational movements. This will be an important and even a necessary book for educators, policy makers, and parents alike; even more, I think--and this is the true measure of Tom Little's legacy--it will be a source of reassurance and strength." Michael Chabon
"A rich overview... the authors eloquently present the progressive principle of integrated, student-centered learning." Publishers Weekly
The longtime head of Park Day School, Tom Little embarked on a tour of 43 progressive schools across the country. In this book, his life s work, he interweaves his teaching experience, the knowledge he gleaned from his trip, and the history of Progressive Education. As Little and Katherine Ellison reveal, these educators and schools invigorate learning and promote inquisitiveness by allowing the curriculum to grow organically out of children's questions whether they lead to studying the senses, working on a farm, or re-creating a desert ecosystem in the classroom.
We see curious students draw on information across disciplines to think in imaginative yet practical ways, like in a "Mini-Maker Faire" or designing and building a chair from scratch. Becoming good citizens was another of Little's goals. He believed in the need for students to learn how to become advocates for themselves, from setting rules on the playground to engaging in issues of social justice in the wider community.
Using the philosophy of Progressive Education, schools can prepare students to shape a vibrant future in the arts and sciences for themselves and the nation.
Noted educator Tom Little and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Ellison reveal the home-grown solution to turning American students into life-long learners.
About the Author
Tom Little served as head of Oakland, California's Park Day School for twenty-seven years. A national leader in Progressive Education, he cofounded the Progressive Education Network. He died in 2014 from cancer shortly after writing this book.Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent and the author of seven books, including The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes You Smarter and Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention. She lives in northern California.