“Our children show us that we all start out with curious, skeptical minds. Children who ask why? are practicing critical thinking. It’s just as well that critical thinking hardly needs to be taught, because no one really knows how to teach it. ”
ALPHA Alternative School was founded in the idealistic 70s in Toronto, a public school with no homework, no grades and no tests. Decisions were made in open meetings by the teachers, parents and students. After struggling though “chaos”, the school found its way. But then educational trends swung back to just-the-basics and rigid structures.
ALPHA’s struggle to maintain its principles and survive for fifty years (and counting) is the subject of Deb O’Rourke’s passionate and engaging book.
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“This book documents a lost history of parents and educators who continued to educate in a kindly and democratic spirit, through decades of neo-conservative attack. It’s about making real changes in public education systems, both immediately and gradually, both locally and systemically, with the consent of the children, parents and teachers involved.“
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Deb O’Rourke is an artist, writer and educator. As a visiting artist, she taught art in over 20 schools. As an ALPHA parent from 1985-1995, she actively participated in ALPHA’s democracy for a decade. In 2004 she returned to ALPHA as its volunteer coordinator, and began researching ALPHA’s history and culture while earning a Masters degree in Education at York University.