This book was a visionary work when first written in 1977, as an angry young teacher’s response to the ineffectiveness and injustice of traditional schools as he experienced them. In the forty years since, it has only become more relevant.
All the problems that caused the young Ted Wachtel to quit his teaching position in frustration persist in today’s schools. Spiraling costs, declining academic standards and shocking violence were just some of the things he wrote about in 1977. Today, these issues and the quality of school learning outcomes are worse than ever.
Wachtel is not against schools. Rather, he is against the continued monopoly that schools have over the resources for learning. He applauds the many students who thrive in schools. But millions
do not, and they should be allowed to choose their own paths to learning. Homeschooling, self-directed learning, apprenticeships, internships, work experiences and other opportunities for learning- by-doing offer viable alternatives to the traditional “assembly line” school model that still characterizes education in almost all of today’s public, private, parochial and charter schools.
Wachtel advocates—based originally on his research, now also based on forty years of positive outcomes in his own alternative programs for delinquent and at-risk youth—that we stop our slavish devotion to an outmoded system that may be inhibiting a positive change in human consciousness.
Instead, he believes we can create “learning systems” that offer more real world, hands-on experiences. The alternatives could be employed in many forms, limited only by our imaginations. But we must first let go of our obsession with compulsory schooling and, instead, prepare young people for the world beyond the schoolhouse.
Trade Paperback: 183 pages
Publisher: The Piper’s Press (2020)
Package Dimensions: 6″ x 9″