Most learning systems apply external motivation through grades, rankings, teacher direction, and approval. The Happy Child suggests that a self-motivated child who is interdependent within a community can develop the full human potential to live a creative and fulfilling life. Harrison focuses on the integration of the whole child, the learning environment, and the non-coercive spirit of curiosity-driven education.
Part social-critic, part humanistic visionary, Harrison not only focuses on a reorientation of education, but the possibility of rethinking our families, communities and workplaces, and ultimately what gives our children, and all of us, real happiness. Harrison adds his voice to those of A. S. Neil, John Holt, and John Gatto who believe that contemporary schools can never be reformed sufficiently, but must be abandoned entirely for something new and vital to emerge.
Perhaps all that education aspires to be is the preparation of the young person for their role in the larger society. This is certainly a good idea for society, but in the efficiency of producing citizen workers, are we missing the deeper meaning and higher purpose of learning? Have we forgotten about the spirit of the child, the purpose of this one life, the unique and fragile expression of a passionate and integrated life? — from The Happy Child
What other authors have to say about The Happy Child:
Such a nobly simple idea that the true purpose of education should be happiness and so clearly reasoned. Steven Harrison speaks for the lives of children everywhere. -Chris Mercogliano, author of Making It Up As We Go Along: The Story of the Albany Free School
A clarion call for our culture to wise up and re-think what education-and the soul of a child-are really all about. Steven Harrison offers us something sorely lacking in today’s educational policy: a vision of true human potential and a practical philosophy for attaining it. Read this book and envision possibility. -Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., author of Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds
This is a splendid book, offering fresh, new insights into a subject exhausted by truisms, pap, and let’s pretend. Harrison’s hard-biting social critique of the plight children and education are in should wake us up to our atrocious treatment of our young, that we might actually address their critical needs rather than simply ignoring them as usual. -Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Crack in the Cosmic Egg