Minding American Education: Reclaiming the Tradition of Active Learning

Martin Brickman (Teachers College Press, 2003) has written a wonderful history of the alternative vision of a lineage of American thinkers who challenged conventional education to be more than sitting down and taking tests. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, John Dewey, John Holt, and George Dennsion, are among those featured.

Introduction to Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better


This is a time for zeal in education reform, and it knows no bounds. Newsweek reports, “More than a third of the state legislatures have passed laws mandating testing that emphasizes achievement in basic skills.” Cries for, “’More, tougher tests!,’ ‘Higher standards!,’ and ‘Back to Basics!’” are being made all across the political spectrum. All political parties agree that education is in need of serious overhaul, but they still urge their people to support the cause of public schooling, value a four-year college education, and work hard to purchase more and more years of schooling for their children. The time is 1976, but it could easily be today.