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"Open Education" Revisited: Promise and Problems in American Educational Reform (1967-1976)

by Lydia A. H. Smith - 1997

Between 1967 and 1976, that period of social/political protest and reform, the ideas and practices of “open education” spread rapidly across this country. Educators were caught up in a kind of education that seemed to answer the many strident criticisms of American public schools. News of successful English informal schools fanned the flames. It was a time of excitement, progress, and optimism that schools could make a positive difference in the lives of children, contribute to the search for alternatives to existing social institutions, and promote the liberation of the human mind and spirit, so long desired and so seldom achieved. This informal, nontraditional style of education seemed to promise much, but it brought serious problems with it because it would require fundamental changes, both in institutional practices and policies and in basic assumptions about children, teaching and learning, and the role of schools in the American society. Support was gradually withdrawn and America went “bask to basics.” However, contemporary educational research seems now to bear out the basic notion of the open classroom, namely, that children can and should be taught in the ways they learn best. It is time for another look at “open education.”

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 99 Number 2, 1997, p. 371-415
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10259, Date Accessed: 5/12/2021 8:56:59 PM

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  • Lydia Smith
    Simmons College

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