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A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont
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A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  43 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
“Sometimes I have thought that this school is like the only place where the lilies are considered at all…” In this stirring account of a teacher and his fourteen students tucked away in the Green Mountains of Vermont, educator Tal Birdsey fervently documents the founding year of his small junior high school with wit and humility. Part memoir, part meditation on the power o ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by St. Martin's Press
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Jul 05, 2011 Amy rated it liked it
I would give this a 3 1/2, if I could. This story of a teacher (Tal) who sets up a very small private middle school in rural VT is a particularly interesting read from the perspective of a homeschooling parent. Tal's educational philosophy meshes perfectly with homeschooling in terms of finding what speaks to each child, allowing them the freedom to find their own voice, etc., and it made me question whether or not I, as a parent, could achieve that level of open and honest dialogue with my own ...more
Mar 14, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to have Tal as my teacher for seventh and eighth grade at the Paideia School in Atlanta. Reading "A Room for Learning" was a wonderful way for me to remember finding and accepting my own voice as a learner. To the outsider unfamiliar with the North Branch School or Paideia, Tal's educational approach probably seems crazy. It has a sizable dose of crazy, but embedded within the crazy is an empowering and revolutionary approach to education that actually works. The emphasis on c ...more
Georgia Herod
Dec 16, 2014 Georgia Herod rated it it was amazing
A caveat--this is longer than it ought to be, but this book is not just a story. It's an integrated philosophy of education--well written and fascinating. It will challenge almost every aspect of our thinking about educating our children.

A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont—the subtitle caught my eye. Because I had lived in Vermont and knew the culture of that state, I was absolutely sure I would appreciate the story. Because I have been a lifelong educator who has longed to b
Jan 15, 2010 Marianna rated it it was amazing
Every middle-school age child should have at least one teacher like Tal Birdsey.
Jun 18, 2011 Liralen rated it liked it
So... hmm.

On the one hand, I think that the author's vision and school are pretty cool. It sounds like the kind of school that a lot of kids would benefit from.

On the other hand, it was hard to know how much to take seriously. The author's - very frequent - swearing sometimes felt like he needed to prove that he was alternative/hip, and while I can see the value in developing the school on its own schedule, there was so little by way of pedagogy that it really was hard to figure out what those k
Meregoddess Vitti Avila
May 22, 2010 Meregoddess Vitti Avila marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: Angels
So far the book is so earnest that I am gritting my teeth, soooooo it has gone into Bathroom Book Status. There are many of you who likely feel quite different but as I am usually thinking thoughts that put me only one phone call away from CPS at any given moment....need I say more? We shall see on this one....
Nov 28, 2010 Ruth rated it really liked it
So so so good. Every middle school teacher must read this. Such courageous families and teacher. Wow. I want to do work at this school. I would write so much more on this one. This is what is right about education in the US. A candle of goodness in this bleak time in education in the US.
Aug 19, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book documented the creation of a middle school in Vermont focused on teaching kids to find themselves, understand who they are, and create community out of their small group. It's pretty powerful what they achieved, however the teacher/storyteller is on the cusp of hateable.
Esther May
Jan 07, 2013 Esther May rated it liked it
It is always interesting to me when I read about what people are doing to improve education. I loved the section where he described what a school should do. Some of this book was really interesting, other parts dragged on.

Kyle  Doty
May 19, 2010 Kyle Doty rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. When I teach I am going to try my hardest to make this a must read for the classroom. Not only can it inspire teachers and future teachers, but students as well.
Ben Huelskamp
Jul 25, 2012 Ben Huelskamp rated it it was amazing
One the best books I've read in awhile, though I'm not sure I'd want Tal as a teacher
Jan 09, 2011 Macy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-teaching
Excellent book for anyone interested in teaching children.
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