Noted educator Tom Little and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Katherine Ellison reveal the home-grown solution to turning American students into life-long learners.
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.
Educator Little and Ellison (Buzz) provide a rich overview of the history and methods of the largely abandoned progressive education model, as well as an optimistic vision for its future. Prior to his death in April 2014, Little, a practitioner and advocate for progressive education since 1976 who served as head of school at Park Day School in Oakland, Calif., conducted a tour of 45 progressive schools, which, blended with his own experience, provide the basis for this book. At the heart of the argument is the idea that children will love learning, if teachers recognize and respond to their individual interests. The authors eloquently present the progressive principle of integrated, student-centered learning with examples gleaned from Little's national tour of progressive schools. Linking current models with the historical underpinnings of progressive education, while openly illuminating the pitfalls and failures of the movement, Little and Ellison provide a comprehensive primer for how and why student-centered learning, combined with dedicated and thorough teaching methods, can create avid and successful learners.