November 28, 2023

An Open Education Primer – Semester 1

The following is a non-exhaustive collection of resources intended to inform educators interested in open education, open plan classrooms, and other forms of learner-centered environments. It only recommends resources found on the Internet. You should of course read John Holt, Loris Malaguzzi, Herb Kohl, A.S. Neill, Lillian Weber, Jonathan Kozol, Paulo Friere, David Perkins, David Hawkins, James Herndon, John Dewey and many others… Consider this an introduction to open education.

Download the free eBook anthology curated by Gary Stager, Dreams of Progressive Education.

There is a bibliography at the end of this page.

Vintage Videos from the 1970s

A documentary on open education and open plan schools.

A Southern United States community commits to open education in an old public primary school.
This video blows my mind.

Herbert Kohl, a pioneer of open education featured in this documentary on the early days of whole language and open education.

Getting Started?

Getting started reading about progressive education? Try this handy shortlist of recommended books Gary Stager assembled for teachers.

A Seminal Book

The Open Classroom by Herbert Kohl
This short book launched the open education movement in the United States

But how do they learn to read?

Reading by Frank Smith
A seminal text on natural approaches to literacy

We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants
Invent the Future of Education at CMK 2023!

But how do they learn math/maths?

Seymour Papert’s Mathland

Constance Kamii Videos

Double-Column Addition

Multiplication of Two-digit Numbers

Multidigit Division

Making Change – The difficulty of constructing “tens” solidly

Constance Kamii Direct vs Indirect Ways of Teaching Number Concepts at Ages 4-6
A comprehensive lecture explaining Piagetian ideas showing that although number concepts cannot be taught directly, they can be taught indirectly by encouraging children to think.

Kamii Games for Developing Number Sense

Constance Kamii and Lillian Katz “Defending the Early Years” panel

Other FABULOUS Inspirational Videos with Implications for Open Education

I remember seeing this live when it aired in 1991. There is rarely any coverage of education this sensible on television.

The late Bev Bos – “Starting at Square One”

A brief bibliography of Open Education Texts

Links are to Amazon, or in the case of articles to the article itself. Online reading links are at the end of many citations.
(These will be alphabetized shortly.)

  1. Kohl, H. (1969). The Open Classroom: A Practical Guide to a New Way of Teaching. New York Review Books. [link to PDF]
  2. Silberman, C. E. (Ed.). (1973). The Open Classroom Reader. Vintage Books.
  3. Silberman, C. E. (1970). Crisis in the Classroom: The Remaking of American Education. Random House. [Read/Borrow from Internet Archive]
  4. Passow, A. H. (1971). Reactions to Silberman’s Crisis in the Classroom: With a Response, by Charles E. Silberman. CA Jones Publishing Company. 
  5. Williams, P. (1967). Education in Change: British Infant Schools and Infant Education. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  6. Weber, L. (1971). The English Infant School and Informal Education. Prentice-Hall.
  7. Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Bloomsbury Academic.
  8. Stenhouse, L. (1975). An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development. Heinemann.
  9. Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Free Press.
  10. Holt, J. (1964). How Children Fail. Pitman Publishing. [PDF at Internet Archive]
  11. Peters, R. S. (1966). Ethics and Education. Allen & Unwin. [Borrow/Read at Internet Archive]
  12. Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling Society. Harper & Row.[Download/Read/Borrow at Internet Archive]
  13. Alexander, R. (2010). Children, their World, their Education: Final Report and Recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review. Routledge. [Read/Download summary report]
  14. Rogers, C. (1969). Freedom to Learn. Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company.
  15. Weber, L., & Dennison, G. (1971). Open Corridor in the City School. Schocken Books.
  16. Postman, N., & Weingartner, C. (1969). Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Delacorte Press. [Link to PDF]
  17. Stephens, L. S. (1971). The Teacher’s Guide to Open Education. Prentice-Hall.
  18. Schneir, W., & Schneir, M. (1971). The Joy of Learning – In the Open CorridorNew York Times Magazine. [article]
  19. Norris, M. A. (1975). Continuity and Connection: Curriculum in Five Open Classrooms. ERIC. [article]

Veteran educator Dr. Gary Stager is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Learn more about Gary here.