Turning Points

$19.95 $9.99

35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Stories

Edited by Jerry Mintz & Carlo Ricci


With contributions from:

Lynson Beaulieu Don “Four Arrows” Jacobs Jerry Mintz
Sharon Caldwell Mark Jacobs Pat Montgomery
Lisa Delpit Shilpa Jain Susan Ohanian
Riane Eisler Herbert Kohl Kirsten Olson
Gustavo Esteva Arnie Langberg Wendy Priesnitz
John Taylor Gatto Mary Leue Carlo Ricci
Arnold Greenberg Dennis Littky Tim Seldin
David Gribble Grace Llewellyn Herb Snitzer
Yaacov Hecht Basir Mchawi Len Solo
Helen Hegener Deborah Meier Lynn Stoddard
Matt Hern Chris Mercogliano Zoe Weil
Helen Hughes Ron Miller

Thirty-five visionary educators were asked: What was your schooling like? When did you realize that there is a need for an alternative approach? What have you done since to help realize that vision? What are you doing now?

Edited by Jerry Mintz & Carlo Ricci and with a foreword by Alfie Kohn, Turning Points is a collection of answers from these visionaries in education, a peek into the lives and journeys of these pioneering individuals who have—and are—transforming what it means to be a teacher, a student, and a life-long learner.

The [educators] we’re looking for are those who say, “I want to work to change this system so others will be spared what was done to me.” They have the compassion and the courage to shake up the status quo and denounce cruel traditions. They’ve mastered the art of negative learning and developed a commitment to making the world, or at least whatever part of it they come to inhabit, a better place than it was before they got there. -Alfie KohnEducation Week (adapted from the foreword)

Turning Points is unique and fascinating. It offers us insights into how some of our most significant educational innovators and visionaries experienced their own educations and how these experiences brought them to their callings as adults. The book is intriguing and informative both as biography and as insights into our history of educational innovation during the past 50 years. -David Marshak, Coordinator of Explorations Academy Online, adjunct lecturer at Fairhaven College, and author of The Common Vision: Parenting and Educating for Wholeness

Anybody interested in Education will find Turning Points enlightening! -Zoë Neill Readhead, Head, Summerill School in England

Turning Points is a marvelous compilation of personal memoirs of progressive educators. From Alfie Kohn’s stirring introduction to the heartfelt, intimate stories of some of the most influential progressive educators of our times, this volume is a revelation. This book is for those of us who need to get started and for those who need to be rejuvenated." Rick Posner, Ph.D.Author of Lives of Passion, School of Hope: How One Public School Ignites a Lifelong Love of Learning

What does it mean to be a human being in the 21st Century? What kind of world do we want to inhabit? What kind of education is necessary here and now? These kinds of fundamental questions animate the efforts of the 35 educators gathered here to reflect on their work and imagine the road ahead. Each is a person of vision and commitment, each willing to dive into the contradictions and swim with confidence through the wreckage toward a distant and often indistinct shore. Each is able to negotiate with intelligence and grace the line between school as it is and education as it could be but is not yet. Together they ignite our imaginations, and urge us to leap into the whirlwind with courage and hope. -William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at University of Illinois at Chicago, Author of To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher and To Teach: The Journey in Comics

In personal, heartfelt stories of the education world’s movers and shakers, the past, present, and future of education is addressed. This book is a testament to the important things in life: finding meaning in our lives, passion in our work, and creating a love for learning in students. -Nichole Ezell, Student, Elementary Education at Florissant Valley (St. Louis Community College)

The authors in this book provide clear, narrative evidence that the hope for the future a more democratic education can bring is more than just wishful thinking and that, in fact, it can be and has been a concrete reality. The stories clearly build on the notion that schooling, in whatever form it takes, should be built on the natural curiosity and excitement for learning all children seem to have before they enter formal schooling. Without a doubt, readers will not forget this book and I give it my highest recommendation as a must read for students, and parents, and educators, and policy makers. -Joe Bishop, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Eastern Michigan University

Turning Points is a treasure trove—a wonderfully diverse collection of stories—not just for educators, but for anyone who has a hope or a dream for something different, something better. -Sally Carless, Executive Director, Global Village School

The book is inspiring and comforting. -Michael Mendizza, Author of Magical Parent, Magical Child

Reading through Turning Points, I became hopeful that it might be possible to rescue education. If you read it, you might become inspired and more hopeful, too. -Daniel Grego, Ph.D., Executive Director, TransCenter for Youth

[Turning Points] is unique in providing a little of the personal stories of all these education leaders, while they weave in some of their key ideas and guiding principles. It is awesome to get some stories of how and what these great people have done, and glimpses of their thought processes, decisions and struggles. -John Breeding, Ph.D., Author of, The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses

Reading Turning Points is like taking a step back in time with people who have been mentors, friends, and teachers to many of us who live in the world of education. What has been accomplished by the writers whose stories grace the pages of this book is clear and a tribute to the efforts they have put forth on behalf of children everywhere. [Turning Points] celebrates the amazing things that can happen when thinking, caring, visionaries bring together a community of people who listen and support their ideas on behalf of all the children in their midst. The amazing thing to me is that none of these authors has lost hope, even in the face of schools that had to be closed and criticism from authorities in academia, in traditional education, and in their communities. Several of them have had to put down their dreams for a while, but none has given up. Our young people depend on that hope and on the fact that there are others who follow after us to build on what we have done or to create something new and stronger than has gone before. This is a book to stir pride in those in the trenches at the same time as it stirs admiration and courage to create on behalf of all children, among those who have yet to join in the effort. -Sandra Hurst, Founder, Upattinas School

I was engaged and fascinated to read about the ways in which so many different people came to their life's work in advocating a vision of education that greatly differs from the teacher-directed, knowledge-fragmented, meritocratic, potential-limiting, standardized education we find in the majority of schools these days. Their journeys to the point of rejecting the status quo educational system are as varied as their approaches to answering the question of 'How should we educate our youth in this society?' What these stories together do differently, though, is show the reader that one does not have to be some sort of 'super-hero' or 'extra-special person' to travel down this questioning and answering path. We can all pose this question of ourselves, and we can all act, in ways big and small, to try to bring our schools or other educational venues, closer to our ideals than they currently are. -Kristan Accles Morrison, Ph.D., Author of Free School Teaching and Associate Professor, Radford University

This is an amazing collection of little known facts about famous and lesser-known alternative educators. Together they make an intriguing patchwork quilt of diverse histories of their lives and experiences as students, and/or as teachers. Often their hopes and aspirations are inspiring as are their philosophies of education and life. My favorite educational authors did not disappoint me. -Emmanuel Bernstein, Ph.D., Psychologist and author of The Secret Revolution

The strength of education has always and still remains in the relationships between teacher and pupil. Somewhere in that relationship is realized a passion for learning and trust that guidance is near to allow exploration to be natural behavior. Read [Turning Points] if you want to experience passion for education and learn the key ingredient to help students merge into learning and love it/accept it/use it to manage their future. -Raymond Morley, Ph.D., Iowa Department of Education

[Turning Points] is one of the finest books I've read. All education students, all teachers, all administrators, parents, and political leaders would definitely benefit from reading this highly exciting and informative book. I was initially troubled when I noticed a statement about the editor’s avoidance of 'hows' and 'whys' of education and schooling. When I noticed the outstanding people and what they did, I saw more deeply, not only 'whys' and 'hows' of powerful schooling and unschooling, but also their difficult to explain inspiration that helps one more clearly see that extensive school transformation may be just around the corner. After reading this masterpiece, the reader can more easily be one's own authority as well as more easily do what the reader thinks needs doing. The book has surpassed my highest expectations. It is outstanding. -Conrad Pritscher, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Philosophy of Education, Bowling Green State University

I found the stories to be deeply affecting. They are personal and honest. They avoid the all too familiar and overly simplistic prose that is too often found in books about education. By focusing on the personal stories of each visionary a depth and nuance arrived. -Scott Nine, Executive Director, Institute for Democratic Education in America

[Turning Points] should be required reading for anyone who cares about kids and education. -Anthony Dallmann-Jones, Director, National At-Risk Education Network

Additional information

Weight 1 lbs
Dimensions 6 x 1 x 9 in


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