Reading this book as a Park Day School alum was a kind of bizarre exegesis for me. It reminded me how blessed I am to have been a pupil of Tom Little’s, to have benefitted so thoroughly from his wisdom and compassion. With the arrival of this book, everyone, and not just his former students, can appreciate the potency of his pedagogical vision.
You needn’t have known Tom, or be in any way affiliated with Park Day School to find this a remarkable book -- it puts forth a highly compelling argument about the transformative potential of inquiry-based, experiential learning models in America’s classrooms. If you did know Tom, I recommend doing him the favor of reading his introduction to this volume -- he writes about his school, his students, and his colleagues with characteristic warmth and grace. We miss you, Tom.
~Nick— From Loving Learning
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.