NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO: The Making of a Free High School by Steve & Joel Denker Bhaerman

NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO: The Making of a Free High School

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Two young teachers in Washington, D.C. tell about founding a ""free school"" for white middle-class kids estranged from high school and their families. The first year the school was a collective, the second year three communes and a central meeting-place. Although some participants got something out of it the experiment strikes one as a failure. The authors however only half-acknowledge this. They both abandoned the effort, but seem to regard the idea of the school as fundamentally sound. Despite their failure to analyze their own experience, their alternating accounts offer a basis for judgment. There were continual tensions and compromises between offering a wholly ""free"" existence and protecting the school from harassment and exploitation; between egalitarian laissez-faire and the need for some decision-making, structure, and responsibility; between warm togetherness and individualistic selfishness and immaturity. The second year, as ardor and unity declined, ""We realized that classes could hardly be the focus of the school"": this was another tension, between the teachers' residual desire to teach and what seemed to be a dauntless anti-intellectualism on the part of the kids. Since no one had much of an idea what classes were aimed at, the issue remained an uneasy tug between duty and preference. The authors seek to ""hasten the demise of a school system that is already collapsing,"" but their failure to think hard about human and social needs beyond the subsidized dropout circuit qualifies them as case reporters only, not reflective contributors.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Simon & Schuster