The concise and passionate story of how a teenager formed his own school that is “intellectually demanding of all its...

The story behind one young man’s alternative school within a school.

By the time Levin reached his junior year, like many kids his age, he had resigned himself to having a couple of great classes, a few he hated, and the rest that were boring. He had interests outside of school that helped him get through his days, but what made him angry was how those with nothing beyond the regimented school day were missing out on life. They weren’t being stimulated in school and had no projects or part-time jobs to engage them. So Levin took matters into his own hands and started his own school. With the support of his mother, Engel (Developmental Psychology/Williams Coll.; The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood, 2015, etc.), and other adults in his high school—and after months of planning—Levin created the Independent Project, a student-run school. The school focused on the students’ interests and passions rather than required curriculum. Though the plan incorporated some traditional subjects, Levin and his team switched things up by aligning science with the humanities and English with math. In alternating voices, Levin and Engel tell the story of how the IP evolved, giving readers an inside look at the entire journey, including the first irritated moments that sparked the original idea, getting approval from the school board, recruiting students, and initiating a trial semester. The authors address their triumphs, setbacks, fears, and concerns, analyzing the step-by-step process so that others may follow and create their own independently run schools. For those who have investigated home schooling, Levin’s methods are reminiscent of unschooling, the process by which learning occurs on a more personal, interest-driven level, without the need to use conventional grading systems. The authors clearly show that learning can be an invigorating, exciting experience for almost everyone—if approached in the right manner.

The concise and passionate story of how a teenager formed his own school that is “intellectually demanding of all its students, no matter what their academic history.”

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62097-152-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016




American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992



The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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