Radical Education and the Common School: A Democratic Alternative

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Routledge, 2011 - Education - 190 pages
`This is a truly thoughtful book. It combines powerful social and educational criticism with a sensitivity to powerful possibility.' Michael W. Apple, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

`Every now and then there comes a book on education to make the blood course through your veins and steel your resolve that `It doesn't have to be like it is'; you know after reading it that something else better is possible. Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed and John Holt's How Children Fail spring to mind as well known examples. Well here's another to stand alongside their work. Written with passion and incisiveness in equal measure, it will lift the spirits and re-energise all who are engaged in education not simply as a means of earning a living but as a way of changing the world for the better.' Tim Brighouse, formerly London Schools Commissioner

`This is a necessary book-particularly now! It is human and hopeful, but at the same time realistic and challenging. It builds its argument on cases, on practice and on experience to offer a different future for education. It should be compulsory reading for all would-be ministers of education.' Stephen Ball, Institute of Education, University of London, UK

`This is an important book that should be read by anyone concerned with the future of education and democracy. In their clear-sighted vision of the Common School as a laboratory for building a sustainable, inclusive and democratic world, Fielding and Moss remind us not only that we can imagine alternative and better futures, but that there are steps we can take to build them.' Keri Facer, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

What is education, what is it for and what are its fundamental values? How do we understand knowledge and learning? What is our image of the child and the school? How does the ever more pressing need to develop a more just, creative and sustainable democratic society affect our responses to these questions?

Addressing these fundamental issues, Radical Education and the Common School: A democratic alternative contests the current mainstream dominated by markets and competition, instrumentality and standardisation, managerialism and technical practice. The authors argue instead for a radical education with democracy as a fundamental value, care as a central ethic, a person-centred education that is education in the broadest sense, and an image of a child rich in potential. Radical education, they say, should be practised in the `common school'-a school for all children in its local catchment area that is age-integrated, human scale, focused on depth of learning and based on team work; a school understood as a public space for all citizens, a collective workshop of many purposes and possibilities, working closely with other schools and with local authorities. The book concludes by examining how we might bring such transformation about.

The book covers a wide vista of education for children and young people, and uses vivid examples from different stages of education to explore the full meaning of radical democratic education and the common school and how they can work in practice. It connects rich thinking and experiences from the past and present to offer direction and hope for the future. It will be of interest and inspiration to all who care about education - teachers and students, academics and policy-makers, parents and politicians.

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About the author (2011)

Michael Fielding is Professor of Education and Peter Moss is Professor of Early Childhood Provision at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

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