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Facsimile web page    Making It Up as We Go Along:
The Story of the Albany Free School
by Chris Mercogliano
Foreword by Joseph Chilton Pearce
Heinemann, 1998 136 pp Paper $17.50
ISBN: 0-325-00043-3

PRAISE for Making It Up as We Go Along

"This book is an important addition to the literature of educational innovation and reform. It is a thoughtful, sensitive, lucidly written description of an earnestly hopeful effort on behalf of children, and also a lyrical salute to moral and psychological growth as they can be nourished in a classroom." -Dr. Robert Coles, Professor of Child Psychiatry at Harvard University and author of Children In Crisis and numerous other books

"This is essential reading for anyone who wants to know about the current educational importance of the work that goes on within the free school movement. Making It Up as We Go Along is an exceptional story about an exceptional school -Herb Kohl, Senior Fellow at the Open Society Institute

"Chris Mercogliano tells a profoundly moving story about children struggling to grow into whole persons and the caring adults who help them. This is the most soulful and authentic book about education since the writings of the radical critics of the 1960s - Holt, Kozol, Dennison, Kohl and Herndon - who have been ignored for thirty years while our schools steadily become more heartless. Mercogliano reminds us once again that true education is not a management technique but a human encounter." -Ron Miller, founder of the Holistic Education Review and author of What Are Schools For?

"Making It Up as We Go Along is an exceptional story about an exceptional school" - Herbert Kohl

"This is a voice that needs to be heard." -Donald Graves, author of A Fresh Look at Writing; Writing: Teachers and Children at Work; and How to Catch a Shark: And Other Stories About Teaching and Learning

"In touchingly plain language, Chris Mercogliano tells about twenty-five years of unfolding trust; how kids learn without anyone making sure; how a free school has become the pretext for community; and how adults who care are able, by shedding their roles, to open unexpectea spaces for friendship and new growth. More convincing than any book I have had the privilege to read, this one proves that learning by children ought, once and for all, to be institutionally disembedded." -Ivan Illich, author of Deschooling Society

"Chris Mercogliano's story about how non-professional adults and impoverished children learn together - not just inside the walls of Albany's Free School, but within the entire community -proves dramatically that there are more important and nurturing outcomes for students than higher test scores. Mercogliano is able to make us feel the urgency of his message by thoughtfully describing how the children he works with have changed his life and his ideas about what school can be.

"This is a brave and invigorating account of what is possible for ordinary people to accomplish within the cracks and holes of our increasingly monolithic and standardized education system." -Patrick Farenga, President of John Holt Associates

"This is a genuinely wonderful book, Most importantly, it demonstrates how community can transcend the elitism, classism and atomism to which so much of the alternative education movement has fallen prey. I am consistently inspired by the dignity and vision of Chris and the Albany Free School." -Matt Hern, Ph.D., editor of Deschooling Our Lives

The following review was taken from Heinemann's review of MIUAWGA, and may be seen on the web by looking at their site itself:

Making It Up as We Go Along is the story of the Albany Free School, a school based on real freedom, real community, real democratic principles, and real affection between teachers and students. There, for over twenty-five years Chris Mercogliano has taught a never-ending variety of children - kids of all ages from every race and social class, from those with developmental and behavioral problems to the so-called "gifted." Thanks to this ongoing experiment ineducation, one of the longest running of its kind in America, Mercogliano has come to understand how children learn and above all, how important autonomy and authenticity are to the learning process.

There is no preset methodology to describe because Mercogliano and his students make it up as they go along. What the author does do is render into words some of the possibilities that abound when teachers and students learn together in an atmosphere of freedom, personal responsibility, and mutual respect. His book debunks many of the misconceptions about teaching and learning, including the belief that education requires a lot of money, sophisticated technology, and extensive specialized teacher training.

Mercogliano wrote this book with three broad goals in mind: to provide an in-depth history of the Free School, including a brief analysis of its place in the broader scheme of things; to describe the school in a way that is meaningful to both those who have some point of reference to the various alternatives to conventional schooling and those who do not; and to address certain fundamental subjects that are too often neglected in our national thinking about children: aggression, sexuality, race/class, and spirituality. In the process, he proves that teachers can help all students pursue their genius and their dreams through the union of self-direction, excitement, joy, and emotional honesty.


Click here to read two more reviews of Chris' book.
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