As explained in the How Children Learn section, the United States has a long history of philosophical and practical resistance to coercive schooling. Ever since Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa May Alcott “Little Women,” etc.) refused to send his daughters to school and chose to homeschool them, there have been resisters. In the United States, there has been a near-continuous line of school critics who have espoused the benefits of play, self-directed learning, multi-year and even inter-generational mixing of learners, immersion in the culture during education, and self-generated exploration.
John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf Schools), Pestolozzi (the father of modern kindergarten), John Holt, Paul Goodman, and all of those who created The Eight Year Report in the period between World Wars I and II, are among literally hundreds of others who have all made the case for putting students more in charge of their own learning. AlternativesToSchool.com is standing on the shoulders of giants and continuing a long-standing critique that we hope will turn into a large-scale movement for all.