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Radical Education and the Common School: a democratic alternative.

Michael Fielding and Peter Moss (2011). London: Routledge

Many of the themes that appear in our account of the school-wide culture of learning at The Wroxham School can also be found in this book, which is threaded through with the authors’ passionate commitment to ‘the insistent, persistent affirmation of possibility’ (p.82).

The authors argue for a ‘fundamentally redesigned but pragmatically possible alternative for education and schooling’ (p.2). This radical possibility can and has been enacted in real-life schools: the authors introduce their vision with vignettes of the preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and a secondary modern school in Stepney, a tough area of London, which became, under the headship of Alex Bloom in the years 1945-55, hugely well known among progressive educators worldwide.

Fielding and Moss give other, more recent examples that embody the characteristics that they see as necessary for truly democratic education. They conclude convincingly that ‘these transformative alternatives’ illustrate, even if only in small, ongoing ways, the ‘grounded possibility of doing things differently’.