Reading List

Shorter Pieces



Sudbury Valley School

The Sudbury Valley School runs a prolific printing press that has published a great deal of interesting material over the years. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Free At Last by Daniel Greenberg. A collection of short vignettes illustrating life at the Sudbury Valley School. A engaging  introduction to this model of schooling. 1987.
  • What it Means to be Staff at a Sudbury School by various authors. Many interesting articles about what it is that teachers (“staff”) do at a Sudbury-type school. 2010.
  • Some Theses of 21st Century Graduates. In order to graduate from SVS, you must defend the thesis that you are a responsible adult capable of functioning in the larger world. This is a collection of written theses of 40-50 students. 2011.


Summerhill is a boarding school in England run in a democratic fashion. It was quite famous in the US in the 60s.

Standard schools

  • The Underground History of American Education, by John Taylor Gatto. An award-winning NYC public schoolteacher writes about his experiences growing up, teaching, and getting out of schools while investigating why schools are the way they are. 2000. Also available free on Mr. Gatto’s website. 1990.
  • Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School, by Theodore Sizer. An honest and insightful look at various high schools around the country. Sizer was dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, headmaster of Phillips Academy, and founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools. 1984.
  • How Children Fail, by John Holt. Mr. Holt describes his experiences teaching math to 5th graders in a wealthy private school during the years 1958-62. He decides that children fail because they are afraid of failure, bored by the trivial nature of their work, and confused because they are flooded with ideas that make no sense and contradict what they already know. The comments in the second edition are fascinating, showing how his thinking evolved over the years.  His love for children and desire for honesty shine through. Revised edition, 1982.

Non-coercive learning

  • For the Sake of Our Children, by Léandre Bergeron. A French-Canadian author/activist/homesteader writes about raising his three daughters in a non-coercive way. 2009.


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