Radical Education and the Common School
A Democratic Alternative
Routledge – 2011 – 194 pages
What is education, what is it for and what are its fundamental values? How do we understand knowledge and learning? What is our image of the child and the school? How does the ever more pressing need to develop a more just, creative and sustainable democratic society affect our responses to these questions?
Addressing these fundamental issues, Fielding and Moss contest the current mainstream dominated by markets and competition, instrumentality and standardisation, managerialism and technical practice. They argue instead for a radical education with democracy as a fundamental value, care as a central ethic, a person-centred education that is education in the broadest sense, and an image of a child rich in potential. Radical education, they say, should be practiced in the ‘common school’, a school for all children in its local catchment area, age-integrated, human scale, focused on depth of learning and based on team working. A school understood as a public space for all citizens, a collective workshop of many purposes and possibilities, and a person-centred learning community, working closely with other schools and with local authorities. The book concludes by examining how we might bring such transformation about.
Written by two of the leading experts in the fields of early childhood and secondary education, the book covers a wide vista of education for children and young people. Vivid examples from different stages of education are used to explore the full meaning of radical democratic education and the common school and how they can work in practice. It connects rich thinking and experiences from the past and present to offer direction and hope for the future. It will be of interest and inspiration to all who care about education - teachers and students, academics and policy makers, parents and politicians.
'Radical Education and the Common School is a truly thoughtful book. It combines powerful social and educational criticism with a sensitivity to powerful possibility. Reading it will demonstrate to critically democratic educators why we should be fully engaged with thick versions of democracy in education.’ – Michael W. Apple, University of Wisconsin, Madison, US
'Every now and then there comes book on education to make the blood course through your veins and steel your resolve that ‘It doesn’t have to be like it is’; you know after reading it that something else better is possible. Written with passion and incisiveness in equal measure, it will lift the spirits and re-energise all who are engaged in education not simply as a means of earning a living but as a way of changing the world for the better.’ – Tim Brighouse, formerly London Schools Commissioner
‘This is a necessary book - particularly now! It is human and hopeful, but at the same time realistic and challenging. It builds its argument on cases, on practice and on experience to offer a different future for education - a democratic common school that serves the needs of students, communities and society. It should be compulsory reading for all world-be ministers of education.’ – Stephen Ball, Institute of Education, University of London, UK
‘This is an important book that should be read by anyone concerned with the future of education and democracy. In their clear-sighted vision of the Common School as a laboratory for building a sustainable, inclusive and democratic world, Fielding and Moss remind us not only that we can imagine alternative and better futures, but that there are steps we can take to build them.’ – Keri Facer, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
"This book is every bit as important as is claimed in the endorsements on the back cover. I hope it is read by lots of teachers and head teachers, by all
those responsible for the educating of teachers, by anyone who still has regional or municipal responsibilities for educational provision, and by all
those making and monitoring educational policy." - David James, Unviersity of the West of England, UK, British Journal of Sociology of Education
"In this, Fielding and Moss have, to my mind, been extraordinarily successful. As a reader, I come away from their book filled with questions and criticisms.
But I also feel excited by the language used and the questions and challenges posed by the authors; and I find my interest piqued by the detailed discussions of past examples of radical educational practice, not all of which I had been previously familiar with." - Stuart Tannock, Cardiff University, UK, British Journal of Sociology of Education
"Fielding and Moss’ book is a welcome addition to our thinking about change. The strategies, values, and experiences that are highlighted and celebrated,
sponsored and criticized will deeply differ in terms of the political philosophy of the social movements, intellectuals, governing bodies, technocratic
forces, and international organizations that are involved in arguing back and force of ‘what is to be done’." - Carlos Alberto Torres, Unviersity of California at Los Angeles, USA, British Journal of Sociology of Education
"Fielding and Moss’s book is almost alone in looking into the future of education and society on the basis of a thorough going critique and rejection of what is happening today in our schools." Michael Bassey, Nottingham Trent University, UK, British Educational Research Journal
1. The State We’re In 2. Democratic Radical Education 3. The Democratic Common School 4. Transforming Education
Michael Fielding is Professor of Education and Peter Moss is Professor of Early Childhood Provision at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK.