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Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track, Safari

By Russell L. Ackoff, Daniel Greenberg

Published by FT Press

Published Date: May 13, 2008

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In the age of the Internet, we educate people much as we did during the Industrial Revolution. We educate them for a world that no longer exists, instilling values antithetical to those of a free, 21st century democracy. Worst of all, too many schools extinguish the very creativity and joy they ought to nourish.


In Turning Learning Right Side Up, legendary systems scientist Dr. Russell Ackoff and “in-the-trenches” education innovator Daniel Greenberg offer a radically new path forward. In the year’s most provocative conversation, they take on the very deepest questions about education: What should be its true purpose? Do classrooms make sense anymore? What should individuals contribute to their own education? Are yesterday’s distinctions between subjects--and between the arts and sciences--still meaningful? What would the ideal lifelong education look like--at K-12, in universities, in the workplace, and beyond?


Ackoff and Greenberg each have experience making radical change work--successfully. Here, they combine deep idealism with a relentless focus on the real world--and arrive at solutions that are profoundly sensible and powerfully compelling.


Why today’s educational system fails--and why superficial reforms won’t help
The questions politicians won’t ask--and the answers they don’t want to hear


How do people learn--and why do they choose to learn?
Creating schools that reflect what we know about learning


In a 21st century democracy, what values must we nurture?
...and why aren’t we nurturing them?


How can tomorrow’s “ideal schools” be operated and funded?
A plan that cuts through political gridlock and can actually work


Beyond schools: building a society of passionate lifelong learners
Learning from childhood to college to workplace through retirement


Table of Contents

About the Authors ix

Preface: Why, and How, This Book Was Written xii

Introduction: What Education Is About xiii


Part 1: Where Today’s Educational System Fails 1

Chapter 1: Learning and Teaching 3

Chapter 2: The Classroom Environment 23

Chapter 3: Subjects and Disciplines 39

Chapter 4: The New World 49

Chapter 5: Antidemocratic Schooling 65

Chapter 6: Factors That Resist Change 71


Part 2: Factors That Contribute to Education 77

Chapter 7: The Environment a Developed Society Provides for Individual Realization 79

Chapter 8: The Special Demands the Environment of a Liberal Democracy Places on Individual Realization 91

Chapter 9: What Individuals Contribute to Their Own Education 99

Chapter 10: The Place of Arts 107


Part 3: Envisioning Ideal Lifelong Education 119

Chapter 11: Why, and How, We Should Be Envisioning an Ideal Educational Environment 121

Chapter 12: The Preschool Years 125

Chapter 13: A New Look at Schools K-12 135

Chapter 14: The College and University Experience 139

Chapter 15: Education and the Working Life 147

Chapter 16: Taking "Retire" Out of Retirement 151


Part 4: Excursus: Funding Ideal Schools 153

Appendix: Sudbury Valley School 159

Postscript 173

Endnotes 175

Index 187