Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America's Schools” as Want to Read:
Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America's Schools
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America's Schools

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  177 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The longtime head of Park Day School, Tom Little embarked on a tour of 43 progressive schools across the country. In this book, his life’s work, he interweaves his teaching experience, the knowledge he gleaned from his trip, and the history of Progressive Education. As Little and Katherine Ellison reveal, these educators and schools invigorate learning and promote inquisit ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 2nd 2015 by W. W. Norton Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Loving Learning, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Loving Learning

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  177 ratings  ·  31 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America's Schools
Mar 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really do not understand the outpouring of positive reviews for this book. For that matter, I rarely rank books as low as this one. I learned very little about progressive education from reading this book. The organization and style seem just as chaotic as the classrooms Little favors.

Little begins by describing the troubles with the public education system. Almost any reader of this book agrees with him that public education is having difficulties, and is probably way over-tested to the detr
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
This book integrates brief chapters on the historical relevance of progressive education. I think the title is tremendously ambitious, as many of the schools mentioned in the book require tuition. To my relief, Mr. Little discusses the extraordinary income inequality that our country has created and the social injustices tied to it. If America (really the United States) has this alarming income inequality, how can private or independent schools save it?

Yes, the anecdotes are inspiring and heart
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 really. Interesting book on progressive education. A couple thoughts made me think: "we don't have an education crisis. We have a democracy crisis" (referring to income inequality). Little suggests we need to stop talking about Finland and look to our progressive roots in establishing collaborative, creative communities encouraging social justice.

A thoughtful read as we look to kindergarten.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: percy's book club
(3.5) Good to put some of the tenets of progressive education into concrete terms, though a lot of this is heartwarming anecdotes of great teachers and schools.

Some of the themes:
"federally funded researchers extensively and repeatedly interviewed more than 12,000 adolescents in grades 7 through 12, while also questioning their family members, fellow students, and school administrators. They found that students with strong relationships at school not only do better academically but ar
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tom Little, in collaboration with Katherine Ellison, has written a very nice book about Progressive Education. To start with, it is just easily readable. Not only is it readable but it is quite enjoyable as well. While authorship is given to Tom Little (co-founder of Park Day School) and Katherine Ellison (journalist), it is written in the first person from Tom’s perspective. At 200 pages of text (plus some useful appendices), it can be read leisurely in just few days.

Tom helped start and then d
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tom Little joined Oakland, California's Park Day School in 1976 as a volunteer; he became a teacher, then the school's principal, ultimately dedicating 37 years to one community-minded school. When its founders began, Park Day simply wanted to expand what citizens believed schools could accomplish. Then Little discovered the history of Progressive Education, a movement that became highly influential after World War I. Little discovered that he existed within a century-old continuum of educationa ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
While I found the book to be very informative and inspiring, unfortunately many of the examples pertained to private (read: rich) schools where expensive changes/programs can be implemented. Many progressive schools are in areas that need the best education possible for students due to a lack of private school options, so I wish the author provided more examples from monetarily struggling schools.
Dec 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This writer has a lot of passion for his subject. It’s a great book, though I don’t know if it offers enough strategies for applying these amazing teaching methods in public schools. He is aware that this kind of education is the privilege of a select few, and frequently the wealthier demographic. And I know that his school offered scholarships. But what I would love to read someday is someone in this field who has a plan to SCALE progressive education.
Joel Carter
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: education
Great book for learning the core beliefs of progressive education, which I would argue is the dominant philosophy in American public education right now. Hard to get through if, like me, you think most of the ideas are bad.
Masha Kurylenko
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best book's I've read about elementary schools! I was hooked from the first page and stayed interested until the end. ...more
Clover White
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some interesting history of the progressive education philosophy. Specific examples of schools employing this model today.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education-reform
This was a wonderful book by the head of every teacher's fantasy school, the Park Day School in Berkeley. As a teacher, it's hard to take away much from a book like this unless you live in a state like California, more specifically in an area like the Bay Area, where teachers are treated like professionals and innovation, rather than stagnation and regression, is encouraged. This school is where all the rich and famous send their kids, although the author is quick to point out the school's inclu ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone new to the idea of progressive education and is curious about it.
I won this book through Goodreads first reads.

Loving Learning is a book that attempts to educate readers on what progressive education is, its history, and how progressive education can avoid pitfalls of traditional education.
I found this book a very interesting read, rekindling the curiosity I felt for non-traditional education that I acquired from watching the documentary 'Waiting for Superman', which was a story about charter/montressori/progressive schools in inner city districts. I really
Jeni Enjaian
While reserving books from my to-read list from the library, I stumbled across this title. I reserved the book because of my personal background. Not only did I earn a degree in education and teach for two years, I also wrote my senior history paper in college on Progressive Education in a local school district. I figured that this book would be light on the historical aspect seeing as how it is an education book not a work of history. However, I believe that the author could have made his argum ...more
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I feel like the best thing going for this book is its writing. Which is beautiful. The worst thing about any Non-Fiction book is the rush to get out information. It wants you to understand to agree but in this it so often makes the writing style stilted and stuffy. The writing in this is so unstuffy and easy to read. I never felt stupid when i was reading this. Which is also a problem i have with alot of Non fiction books but not this one. It says it took twenty years for Tom to write this and i ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
After spending a number of decades fixated on progressive education reform - and uniformly disappointed with American "progress" in our schools, it's done my heart right to read such a book all these years later. The late Tom Little left us too soon - and it is my great loss that despite the short distance between Park Day School and my own haunts (professional & otherwise) in the Bay Area, our paths never crossed.

If you have or care about children, and/or teach/taught/are considering teaching,
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The next time someone asks for my Statement of Teaching Philosophy, I'm just going to hand them this book. It's everything I've been struggling to articulate in interviews and conversations. Progressive Education makes intuitive sense to me--kids learn by having the opportunities to learn, by following their interests and building on concepts organically, rather than studying each piece in a vacuum and never connecting them.

All schools should be run this way. I'm lucky in that, as the school Lib
Jeanne Berrong
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The last paragraph of the book:

"So, in other words, we could keep talking about Finland–and make ourselves miserable–or we can move forward, by reviving our own past. We have all the tools we need to make our education system great again. In fact, we invented them. Schools that produce bighearted innovators are part of our American heritage, and the time is ripe to share their benefits with many more American children."

A beautiful, touching work, and so, so important.
May 09, 2015 rated it liked it
I received this book as a first read. I like the idea of fostering emotional needs, a sense of community, and social justice. Our schools need more of this. Rote academics aren't enough. We need to be putting good citizens into the world. The book is dry but is an interesting look at progressive educators and schools. While the book provides a nice overview of progressive schools it stops short of creating a plan that other schools can follow in order to improve. ...more
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What an interesting book. So many ideas, so much inspiration. Loved learning about the history of the progressive schools movement that created teaching strategies that are now ubiquitous in all good schools. Also extremely helpful in understanding the emotional and political context of the always present debate over our schools. Very accessible and practical handbook to thinking about how to do better for our kids.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
An excellent overview of progressive education, and 21st century education methods. These techniques have proven effective in charter schools, both public and private, and in mainstream classrooms. The factory model of teaching and learning has not served our students and in "Loving Learning" we see examples of the alternatives that teachers and schools must rely on going forward. ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
An interesting book about Progressive schools and how they have/ could make a positive impact on students' education. I'm a teacher and I would recommend this book to any teacher that is frustrated over the new standards, new tests, and how we are held accountable. ...more
Aug 26, 2015 rated it liked it
A solid, layman's introduction that defines and explains progressive education through contemporary examples grounded in historical context. Potentially eye opening to those who experienced a traditional education and a helpful primer to those of us who work in a progressive environment. ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tom Little was a mentor to me and his book highlights progressive education and schools that embrace the philosophy of constructivsim, social emotional learning, project based curriculum, social justice, and so much more!
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book really had me thinking how I teach! I feel like I will definitely start looking closer at my lessons to see if there is a way I could teach in a more progressive way.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book features the elementary school our kids attended in Ohio. We LOVED working with those teachers and administrators. The kids left Wickliffe with their love of learning intact.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was very interesting as an educator. It may not be the most practical in all settings but the perspective is clear. I got this book from Goodreads First Reads.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good primer on the progressive education movement; includes both the positives and pitfalls.
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great overview of the history of progressive education. My school also has a mention in the book, so how bad can it be!
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education, parenting
Another must-read book that explains how to fix our crappy, hate-to-go-to-school education.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Second Chance Pass (Virgin River, #5)
  • The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... and Why
  • Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful: Preventing Exclusion in the Early Elementary Classroom
  • Childhood and Society
  • Dibs in Search of Self
  • Play Therapy
  • If I Get to Five: What Children Can Teach Us about Courage and Character
  • The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry
  • The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
  • The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety
  • Designing Qualitative Research
  • Attachment
  • The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design
  • The Empire of Gold (Daevabad Trilogy, #3)
  • Home Body
  • When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education
  • The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers: The Michaela Way
See similar books…

Related Articles

  Discover lots of new and upcoming nonfiction reads this season with our author interviews, articles, and book lists!   Interviews with...
26 likes · 31 comments
“The Sputnik moment for the Open Classroom movement came in 1983, when a blue-ribbon commission appointed by Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education, T. H. Bell, delivered a scathing report, entitled, A Nation at Risk, whose famously ominous conclusion warned that “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.” The response this time was a fervent and growing bipartisan campaign for more accountability from schools, mostly in the form of more of those standardized tests. And by 2001, “accountability” had become a buzzword. Under President George W. Bush that year, the “No Child Left Behind” Act tied federal funding to students’ performance on tests. Eight years later, President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” program sought similar results, although this time using carrots instead of sticks. However the federal policy was constructed, the message was becoming clear: for schools to survive, their students would have to score high on mandated tests. Teachers consequently understood that to preserve their own jobs, they’d have to spend more time and energy on memorization and drills. The classrooms of the so-called Third Industrial Revolution began to look ever more like the dreary common schools of the turn of the twentieth century, and the spirit of Emile retreated once again.” 1 likes
“The road to success is through constant blundering. —COLONEL FRANCIS W. PARKER” 0 likes
More quotes…