Toxic Schooling:

how schools became worse

by Clive Harber £6.99 (inc UK pp) 978-1-900219-37-2 (Kindle edition available)

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Unease with schooling is not new.  Bertrand Russell writing in 1926 noted that,

“We are faced by the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought”. (From On EducationP.28)

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a variety of those concerned with education (Edmond Holmes, A.S.Neill, Rudolf Steiner, Margaret McMillan, Charlotte Mason, Susan Isaacs and Bertrand Russell) were critical of schooling and went on to suggest more personalised, democratic and humane forms of education as alternatives.

However, in the 1960s and 1970s, a period of social and cultural and political upheaval a number of writers again began to question and critique the relevance and benevolence of schooling. This book examines the main ideas in key texts on schooling by inovative educational thinkers:

  • The School That I’d Like – Edward Blishen

  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Friere

  • Compulsory Mis-Education – Paul Goodman

  • The Betrayal of Youth – James Hemming

  • How Children Fail – John Holt

  • Deschooling Society – Ivan Illich

  • Life in Classrooms – Philip Jackson

  • Education and Ecstacy – George Leonard

  • The Little Red Schoolbook – Soren Hansen and Jasper Jensen

  • Education for Self-Reliance – Julius Nyerere

  • Teaching as a Subversive Activity – Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

  • School is Dead – Everett Reimer

  • Freedom to Learn – Carl Rogers

  • Key Critiques

  • Schooling Today – Much the Same?

  • Schooling Today – Making Matters Worse

  • What Is To Be Done?

Dr Harber continues to examine the extent, if any, to which these critiques affected schools today and the many ways the situation is now actually worse because their insights were ignored or dismissed. All schools of the compulsion model are toxic, but some are more toxic than others? The book concludes with what needs to be done to reverse the toxic effects of schooling.

Dr. Clive Harber is Professor of International Education at the University of Birmingham and author of the acclaimed book Schooling as Violence.


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