First Do No Harm: Progressive Education in a Time of Existential Risk

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First Do No Harm: Progressive Education in a Time of Existential Risk

In his introduction to Steve Nelson’s acclaimed book on progressive education, Matt Damon writes, “All children deserve a progressive education, not just a privileged few, an education that will enliven their lives with joy and possibility and help them contribute to the betterment of society and our planet.”  What can we expect and even demand of public officials — school board members and local legislators — who decide on the ways in which public schools are run? Steve Nelson argues that we should begin by insisting, that first and foremost, no harm is done to children who attend public schools. He encourages us to consider a Bill of Rights for Children that he presents in the last chapter of his remarkable book along with his conclusions on why progressive education is so important in this time of existential risk. 

About First Do No Harm: Progressive Education in a Time of Existential Risk

First Do No Harm: Progressive Education in a Time of Existential Risk develops a comprehensive argument for the importance of progressive education in light of the world’s increasingly severe challenges. Current educational practices, particularly in the United States, instill conformity and compliance at a time when authority must be challenged, skepticism must thrive and our students must be imaginative, creative, empathic and passionately alive.

The book traces the origins of progressive education and cites the rich history and inarguable science behind progressive practices. Nelson argues that a traditional or conventional approach to education has dominated as a matter of political expediency, not good practice. The book provides an unsparing critique of current policy and practice, particularly the excesses of contemporary education reform.

Using anecdotes from his many years as an educational leader, he makes the case in an engaging, colorful and accessible style. In the final chapter, Nelson offers a Bill of Educational Rights, hoping teachers, parents and all citizens will demand a more joyful, constructive and loving education for the children in their care.

 
 

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Education / Policy & Reform / Philosophy & Social Aspects of Education / Charter Schools
6 x 9 inches | 266 pages
$17.95 Paperback | $24.95 Hardcover | $9.99 eBook
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Book Reviews

“This is ultimately a hopeful book.  Steve spells out a vision of real education reform that we just might be ready for now. His Bill of Educational Rights, based on the best of what is known from science and theory about human development and children’s learning, should be our manifesto.” – Matt Damon, Actor, Writer, Producer

“This optimistic, anecdotal book offers useful ideas for changes in education.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Parents, teachers and those who support better educational opportunities for all of our children should start by reading Steve Nelson’s First Do No Harm, Progressive Education in a Time of Existential Risk.” –  Jonathan Pelto

“This powerful, entertaining book is both a beautifully-expressed explanation of progressive education and a searing indictment of contemporary education policy and practice.” - Amazon

“Essential reading for every parent, teacher and policy maker.” - Amazon 

“Steve Nelson knows full well that freedom begins between the ears.  He negotiates this space with clarity, charm and precision.  Ultimately he shows the reader how a good education is the mirror image of a proper democracy.” – Colum McCann, Author of Let the World Spin and National Book Award winner

“Written in direct, jargon-free style, and using his vast educational experience, Nelson makes a compelling case that much of current educational reform is wrong-headed. A great, thought-provoking read.” – Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Professor, University of Delaware, Co-author with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells us About Raising Successful Children

“This book exceeded my expectations. It is "must" reading for all educators, regardless of their field of expertise or the institutions in which they teach.” - Amazon

“Nelson combines experience, knowledge, wisdom and brilliant writing as he invites us into school the way it should be. Using progressive education as his platform, he demonstrates how education can nurture engaged and motivated children who actively discover their world and grow up to be good citizens. Sound like a pipe dream? Read on.” – Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Temple University

“This powerful, entertaining book is both a beautifully-expressed explanation of progressive education and a searing indictment of contemporary education policy and practice. As a teacher, I appreciate the inspirational, good-humored tour of contemporary research and theory. As a parent and an activist, I appreciate the Bill of Education Rights, outlining what we should expect from our schools. As a citizen, I appreciate the clear vision for what education can be — humane, equitable, meaningful and joyful.” Amazon Review, Amazon.