Turning Learning Right Side Up

book by Russell Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg (of the original Sudbury School), ISBN:9780132346498

Part of me really likes this book, and thinks that esp if you haven't already read any John Holt or John Taylor Gatto, this is a great intro to why modern schools are not just a bit broken, but Evil.

  • So why am I putting The Kids through it?

    • Nothing like-it available in NYC

    • I'm pretty sure Jihi wouldn't go for it (though I've put this book in her to-read pile, dunno if she'll ever get to it)

    • would be very nervous about the kids future

On the other hand

  • rather than write a single coherent narrative, the 2 authors alternate sections. And don't even label which is whose, except via icon (which you can decode yourself).

  • there's too many cases of taking a Model as an absolute ("there are four different ways to treat problems").

  • sometimes the writing is a little too abstract/boring (though other times it's not). Like they're trying to "prove" something, which I don't think really happens.

The standard argument on how modern education was created to serve the Industrial Age, and thus a fundamentally bad fit for the New Economy.

The need for a life-long Network Of Learning mentality.

Design as the highest form of Problem Solving. (Even more than typical Systems Thinking.)

Playing (Play Ethic) as the main learning tool that kids use naturally.

If there's no Freedom or Demo Cracy in a student's life, how do we expect them to become constructive Citizen-s?


Design section - the meat of the book

Framing: Idealized Redesign

  • define a system you'd be happy to have instead of the current system, in an instant/magic swap

  • must be feasible/viable/sustainable once magically in place

  • ideal-seeking (doesn't have to be perfect on day1)

Pre-School years

  • no discussion about Pre-School itself, more about parenting

  • big emphasis on creating a foundation of security (Tim Leary First Circuit) for confidence, etc. during 0-1, don't worry about spoiling

  • belief that children naturally want to conform to social expectations, so there's little need for pushing that at an early age

  • big importance of encouraging communication during 1-4: listen, reply thoughtfully, help them express themselves and understand others.

  • big importance during 1-4 in letting kids interact with the Real World, or at least some simulation of it: let them make messes and mistakes

Kinder Garten, Elementary School, Middle School, High School

  • basic characteristics of Sudbury School

    • self-motivation

    • equal status to all interests, no special subjects

    • self-evaluation, no testing/grades

    • emergent learning groups, not age-based classes

    • no artificial distinction between teachers and learners

    • participatory democracy for running the school

  • I think this should be a key section of the book, but it's rather lite/abstract. Perhaps reading an explicit Sudbury School book would be better for this.

College Education

  • Under Graduate program is for developing Creativity and maturity, and just following interests: Liberal Arts, etc.

    • would your parents pay for that? not at current top-end prices.
  • Grad School is for developing practitioners (Profession)

  • no entrance requirements for either level of college: lottery to allocate slots

  • exit requirements only if Professional Certification needed.

  • students play key rule in design/management of system

  • expect more students of all ages

Educating Adults: even more schedule flexibility needed than new-college

Funding: School Vouchers


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