Alternative Education Hall of Fame

This is a list of individuals in the field of educational alternatives who have been inspirational to the one or many people who have named them. The list is not nor will it ever be closed. To add or edit an entry, send the name with a few sentences or a short paragraph, along with any web links you may have, to

Alexander Adamsky

Alexander Adamsky is a leader and organizer of Eureka, the organization which
promotes the alternative education movement in Russia. Eureka has worked for
the last 10 years to support a variety of innovations including free and democratic
education. All information about Eureka is on the internet, but in Russian.

John Adcock

David Albert
Wrote And the Skylark Sings with Me

A. Bronson Alcott

One of the leaders of the American Transcendentalist movement in the mid 1800's, Alcott was also an innovative educator. Alcott taught for many years and founded the Temple School in Boston in 1834. Alcott believed in educating the whole child and focused his school around conversations and dialogues he conducted with them. He also initiated physical exercise periods, did not believe in corporal punishment at a time when most teachers did, and involved all the students in the assigning of punishments to the other students. Father of Louisa May Alcott, her book Little Men is highly influenced by her father's educational and life philosophies. Alcott's closest friends were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller.

A. Bronson Alcott Network:

Thomas Armstrong

Author of In Their Own Way et al

Sri Aurobindo

The inspiration for Mirambika, the school in Delhi, where the first basic principle is that nothing can be taught

Joy Baker

Championed Home Education in the UK. In the 1950's she fought a bitter struggle with her local Education Authority during which she lost custody of her children and all but bankrupted herself. She finally won her case and was allowed to HE. She of course got her children back and wrote a book on the subject (which has achieved cult status in the UK where it is hoarded by HE'ers who find a copy). Without her dedication to her family HE would not have the status it now has in the UK.

Miloslav Balaban

Russian educator who founded, tested in numerous experiments, and developed the idea of Park Schooling as opposed to the presently habitual grade-schooling practice. The main idea of this is that in the future schools will be organized like educational services including all civil structures. Instead of trying to change methods or reform current class-schooling we must just create open structures – Park-schools – and give students a chance to choose teachers, projects, kinds of work experience, whenever they want or need it. He also organized EPOS (Educational Park of Open Studios).

Joan Barickman

Director of ACES in Bedford Hills in New York, author of School Wise.

Bob Barr

Bob Barr, Dan Burke and Vern Smith were the co-founders of the
International Consortium for Alternatives in Education (ICOPE). They
founded the Changing Schools Newsletter and convened the two Wingspread Conferences on Alternatives in Education. They also conducted national conferences for ten years after producing the first national conference in Minneapolis in 1973.

Stringfellow Barr and Scott Buchanan

Founders of the New Program at St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland, USA. They re-established the practice of the classical Liberal Arts as an appropriate college, undergraduate curriculum and preparation for life in a free society.

Bernhard Bartmann

In 1985 he filed a lawsuit at the Bundesverfassungsgericht (could be translated as "Federal Constitutional Surpreme Court") against the Bavarian law of compulsory schooling to protect his son's choice of not going to school. He lost the case. Michael and Bernhard Bartmann emigrated to Austria to avoid ongoing prosecutions by German authorities.

Fred Bay

Executive Director of the Paul Foundation in New York City and a longtime contributor to initiatives that foster freedom, democracy and equality in education.

Doug Berg and Randy Nelson

Started the Minnetonka Mini School program 32 years ago. They took an outward bound certification course the summer prior and then started a program in the fall with 120 students. The goal was to use a holistic approach to learning and include outdoor experiential education in the program. The two staff stayed with the program for 29 years before retiring and leaving the program to myself and one other colleague and helping us to hire two more. I believe they were one of the first people/programs to extensively use outdoor experiential education. The two staff would take 13 to 15 trips a year ranging from 2 days to 3 weeks. The trips include Hiking, canoeing, biking, skiing, other winter activities, etc. Trips have included BOCA winter camping and spring canoeing, Grantsburg hikes, a large trip each year (including the Grand Canyon, Lewis and Clark Missouri River, The Buffalo River in Arkansas and others), and trips like back packing in the Black Hills, Yellowstone, and other places, biking in Southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, as well as in Florida and other places. The program has gone through good times of support from community and budgets as well as very dry times of cost containment and not as much community support. These two staff were instrumental in this program being successful and helping other programs in the Twin City area learn about Alternative Education. If you have more questions please ask. Ramona Anderson

Nate Blackman

Founded and operated Chicago High School for Metropolitan Studies (Metro), one of the earliest public alternative schools (1969?). Metro established both the credibility and the viability of public alternatives.

Robert Bly

"For over forty years, Robert Bly has held a place among the foremost poets of his generation, while positioning himself as an outsider in both the larger society, which he sees as dominated by consumerist culture, and the literary community, which he feels is dominated by the academy. Unlike most of America's prominent poets, Bly has eschewed university teaching, preferring to live in the small town of Madison, MN-the state he was born in-on a farm with his wife and three children. He makes his living writing, giving poetry readings around the nation, and translating Scandinavian fiction. He has also worked extensively as an editor." He has also sought to be an influence social and cultural ideas not only through his poetry but also writing books of different sort (Iron John, The Sibling Society, The Maiden King) using life long work he spent studying Jungian psychology, works of Joseph Campbell and extensive study of mythology to comment on struggles of modern society and ways through ancient knowledge we might find answers. (Their website in English)

Helen Hegner

Hartmut von Hentig

Founder of the "Laborschule Bielefeld" (in Bielefeld, Germany) and author of Schule neu denken. (in English)

Kytka Hilmar-Jezek

Kytka Hilmar-Jezek is the author of over twenty books that have changed the way people think about parenting, education, entrepreneurship, and natural healing. For a long time, her site Waldorf Homeschoolers was the most popular homeschooling site and her yahoogroups forum was "the" place to be around the new millennium. It was "social media" before social media existed and she had over 25,000 people in the forum actively participating in the discussions. Kytka has successfully raised three unschooled children and it's been her life's mission to help the next generation, race to the top instead of falling to the bottom. More than that, she works tirelessly to ignite a massive change in how we think about education, a fundamental shift in what it means to raise a child in the technological age. Kytka is the author of 99 Questions and Answers About Homeschooling, Born To Learn: Real World Learning Through Unschooling and Immersion and her latest, School Sucks: How to Hack Your Child's Education by Unschooling and Saying 'No More' to School Forever. Her Young Entrepreneur Book Series, including Smart Kids, Saavy Kids, Super Kids, Secure Kids, Silly Kids, Special Kids, Strong Kids and Sure Kids contains the most powerful form of inspiration – quotations – from leaders and entrepreneurs all over the world to inspire the next generation of thought leaders and game changers.

Melanie J. Hiner and John R. Hiner Jr.

Founder and co-founder of The New School in Delaware, United States, which follows in the tradition of "free schools" like Summerhill and Sudbury Valley while incorporating significant innovative features derived from The New Program at St. John's College. For more details, visit the school's website at:

Tilman Holsten (and Christine Simon & Johannes Heimrath)

Tilmann refused to go to school from 1986 to 1988 when he would have been in 3rd and 4th grade. Parents Christine Simon and Johannes Heimrath finally were found not guilty by a local court. This is the first and so far only case against the compulsory schooling that was won in Germany.

John Holt

Inspired teacher and alternative school advocate who eventually left teaching and espoused home schooling. Author of many books including How Children Fail, How Children Learn, The Underachieving School, Teach Your Own, and Learning All the Time. He founded Growing Without Schooling Magazine.

Shinichiro Hori

Translated A. S. Neill's writings into Japanese, and founded Kinokuni Children’s School, the Japanese Summerhill, which is the only Japanese alternative school recognised by the state.

David Horsburgh

His school, Neel Bagh, and training program influenced the founders of Sumavanam as well as Rohit Dankar, the founder of three schools in north-west India, among others. He died in 1984.

Myles Horton

Founder of the Highlander Folk School. Here is what Marian Wright Edelman says about his autobiography, The Long Haul: "Myles Horton is a national treasure his book is a testament to the power of the human spirit and human will. For more than fifty years, this extraordinary servant-leader and his Highlander Folk School have created opportunities for the poor and disenfranchised to develop their own leadership capabilities and work together for structural change."

Katharine Houk

Jean Houston

"Dr. Jean Houston is a scholar and researcher in human capacities, and for the past 30 years has co-directed, with her husband Dr. Robert Masters, the Foundation for Mind Research, first in New York City and now in Pomona, New York. Their work has focused on the understanding of latent human abilities. She is the founder of the Mystery School–a program of cross-cultural mythic and spiritual studies–dedicated to teaching history, philosophy, the new physics, psychology, anthropology, myth, and the many dimensions of our human potential."

Charlotte Huck

Children's literature professor at Ohio State for many years. Constant supporter of alternative education. She had a huge federal grant in the early 70's and sent many students to England to study alternative education under the directorship of Moira McKenzie.

Helen Hughes

Founder (and still teacher at) Windsor House School, founded in 1970. E mail:

Ivan Illich

Director of Institutional Alternatives in a Technological Society. Proponent of deschooling education and society, and author of many books including Deschooling Society. Founded and directed the Center for Intercultural Documentation (CIDOC) gatherings in Cuernavaca, Mexico in the 1970s. Illich dies in 2002.

Hussein Ibrahim Issa

Founder of the Hope Flowers School, Bethlehem. (September 1947- March 2000) A Palestinian refuge, whose family was confiscated in the 1948 war, he grew up in very limited circumstances in Deheishe refugee camp south of Bethlehem. From early on, he was sensitized to the deprivation faced by the Palestinian children and their families. Yet he was not embittered by his experience. Rather he felt motivated to work in every way to build conditions for peace with Israel and other nations, while concentrating on meeting the basic needs of the Palestinian children. He started Al-Amal Child care center in 1984 as a response to those needs, having surveyed the West Bank area of west Bethlehem and south Beit Jala, areas already known to lack social services. Hussein found a critical need for childcare. Hussein knew from his background in social work and education the proven benefits of preschool education for young children. He knew from the refugee camps and other neighborhoods that nothing like it was already available, and he knew he wanted to serve them. So, Al-Amal opened its doors with little more than good intentions and hard work – from “below zero”, as Hussein pointed out, with not even chairs at first. The program evolved gradually from Al-Amal Child Care center until it became the Hope Flowers School in 1995.

Jürg Jegge

Organiser of the Kleingruppe Lufingen and author of Dummheit ist Lernbar(Stupidity is Learnable) which has sold over 100,000 copies in German (and has not yet been translated into English.)

Wayne Jennings

Wayne Jennings was trained and worked as a core curriculum teacher in the late 1950s, a radical program built on student interests and persistent societal issues. He ran conferences and workshops on the method and served as state and national president of the respective core associations. He started the St. Paul Open School in 1971, a student-centered school that attracted 10,000 visitors in its first ten years and in 2002 is in its 30th year. His proposals for reform attracted millions of dollars of support throughout his career. He started ten schools including charter schools, a performing arts school and two schools for at-risk youth. He is a past president of numerous associations and a school board member. He has been a principal and superintendent. He authors the ASCD sponsored Brain-Compatible Education network newsletter, now in its 14th year. He writes and speaks widely on educational transformation and formed a company, Designs for Learning, which won one of the New American Schools awards to redesign education. In 2001, he helped form the International Association for Learning Alternatives and became its first board chair. Early in his career he ran several businesses: plastering, building contractor and fiberglass canoe manufacturer. He served in the U.S. Army. Active in educational transformation, he lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife, Joan Sorenson, another alternative educator. His e mail is

Marietta Johnson

A proponent of a unique philosophy of progressive education, contemporary Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessorri, Mrs. Johnson founded the School of
Organic Education
in Fairhope, Alabama. Her school had no examinations, no homework, and she did not believe any child should be allowed to fail.

Pa Joof

Herb Kohl

Herb Kohl is the author of such seminal books as 36 Children and The Open Classroom. He works in the field of learning and computer technology.

Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and social theory. His many books include Punished By Rewards, No Contest: The Case Against Competition, and The Case Against Standardized Testing. Alfie lectures on the topics of rewards and punishments, standardized testing, parenting, and business management.

C.M. Kold

Worked with Gruntvig in Denmark. Grundtvig did the
theory; Kold started some alternative schools in Denmark.
Danish Folk High Schools Association:












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Janusz Korczak


Korczak introduced progressive orphanages designed as just communities into Poland, founded the first national children´s newspaper, trained teachers in what we now call moral education, and worked in juvenile courts defending children's rights. His books How to Love a Child and The Child’s Right to Respect gave parents and teachers new insights into child psychology. Generations of young people had grown up on his books, especially the classic King Matt the First, which tells of the adventures and tribulations of a boy king who aspires to bring reforms to his subjects. During WWII Korczak was forced by the Nazis to lead the children of his orphanage to the Treblinka death camp, where he and the children were killed.

Jonathan Kozol

Kozol is a long-time social activist, author of seven award-winning books which focus on the plight of disadvantaged children of our nation. Death At An Early Age, published in 1967, describes Kozol's first year experience as a teacher in an urban setting. He has worked with alternative schools and public schools, and his other books include Free Schools, Savage Inequalities, and Ordinary Resurrections.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

J. Krishnamurti, whose life and teachings spanned the greater part of the 20th century, is regarded by many as one who has had the most profound impact on human consciousness in the modern times. Sage, philosopher, educator and thinker, he illumined the lives of millions the world over—intellectuals and laymen, young and old. He gave new meaning and content to religion by pointing to a way of life that transcended all organized religions. He confronted boldly the problems of contemporary society and analysed with scientific precision the workings of the human mind. Declaring that his only concern was to ‘set man absolutely, unconditionally free’, he sought to liberate man from his deep conditioning of sorrow, fear, violence, and selfishness.

Homer Lane

Homer Lane (1875-1925) was Superintendent of the Little Commonwealth, a co-educational community in Dorset, England, run for children and young people ranging from a few months to 19 years. Those over 13 years old were there because they were categorize as delinquent. An American by birth, he had early experience as an educator at the George Junior Republic. At the Little Commonwealth from 1913 to 1918 he pioneered the self-governance approach, in which the children had a direct say in their life and the workings of the community. This approach was incorporated by A.S. Neill into Summerhill School and has since been incorporated into democratic and free schools around the world. Lane was a large influence on the younger Neill. Lane was also a psychotherapist for many years.

Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth by E.T. Bazelely with an
absolutely gripping account of the origin of self-government with delinquent children. (1928/ paperback 1969)

Homer Lane, A Biography by W. David Willis (1964)

Talks To Parents and Teachers by Homer Lane, preface by A.S. Neill.

Arnie Langberg

Founder of Mountain Open High School (became the Jefferson County Open School)in Evergreen, Colorado and other excellent schools. Taught previously on Long Island.

Dave Lehman

An early leader of the free school movement. In the 1960s he was one of the creators of the New Schools Exchange Newsletter, a vital movement networking publication. He later migrated to Ithaca, NY where he co-founded a private elementary-age free school which then became the Alternative Community School, a publicly funded alternative for middle and high schoolers. ACS is a nationally acclaimed model and Dave is a leader of the small schools movement in America.

George Leonard

Author of Education and Ecstasy, and Transformation, among other books. Senior editor for many years of Look magazine, and a pioneer in the field of human potential. He is also a fifth-degree black belt in the revolutionary martial art of aikido.

Olga Leontieva

Olga Leontieva has initiated, developed and directed the first Park-School in Moscow, the first such project inside a government school. It is still operating within the School of Self Determination led by Alexandre Tubelsky (see also Miloslav Balaban). She is now the coordinator of EPOS (Educational Park of Open Studios), an international project.

Mary & Michael Leppert

Editors of The Link, Homeschool Newspaper.

Mel Levine, MD

This wonderful man is an advocate for children with learning difference (who among us learns the same anyway?). Aside from his practice, Dr. Levine writes books: A Mind at a Time, The Myth of Laziness and more, and lectures. He and his wife have a farm, and he has a fondness for ducks.

Mary Leue

An early leader of the free school movement. Founded in 1969 by
Mary Leue, The Free School in Albany, New York, is one of the oldest
inner-city independent alternative schools in the country. "Operating
on a sliding tuition scale that slides all the way to zero when
necessary, we are a learning community of about forty-five children,
with many from low-income families, and eight full-time teachers
supported by numerous talented and creative volunteers and interns.
We have thrived by developing an internal economy which enables us to
avoid dependence on outside grants from government or the private
sector, or on prohibitively high tuitions. (Never in our history have
we turned away a single child for financial reasons.)"
She later founded and published SKOLE (SKOLE), the Journal of Alternative Education, also publishing four volumes of Challenging the Giant, the Best of SKOLE.

Jean Liedloff

Dora Lievow and Emanuel Pariser

Co-founders of the Community School in Camden, Maine.

Dennis Littky

Co-founder and co-director of the Big Picture Company and the Met School. Dennis Littky is the former, highly controversial principal of Thayer High School in Winchester, NY. Thayer High School, due to Littky's progressive educational reforms, was the first school to be named to the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Grace Llewellyn

Author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook and Guerrilla Learning. Directs the Not Back to School Camp in Oregon and West Virginia.

John Locke

English philosopher (1632 – 1704) who tutored the children of the Earl of Shaftesbury and wrote Some Thoughts Concerning Education (including many such unexpectedly modern ideas as "Few years require few laws" and "Who is there that would not be disgusted with any innocent recreation, in itself indifferent to him, if he should with blows, or ill language, be hauled to it, when he had no mind?").

June Long

In the Osseo School District in Osseo Minnesota, she was a pioneer in helping establish district wide programs for students who were at risk. June was one of the first Presidents of the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs back in the early 1970s. She started several programs for students who were at risk. She was for the past 30 years and is still active in linking students with Business and Industry through traditional work experience programs and through School to Careers Initiatives.

Christiane Ludwig-Wolf

Is (illegaly) unschooling her three sons (9, 11, 13 years old) for about two years now. In 2000 she initiated the "Initiative für selbstbestimmtes Lernen – gegen Schulpflicht" (Initiative for self-directed learning – against compulsory schooling) which seems to be the beginning of an Unschooling movement in Germany.

Bob Mackin

NASP – National Alternative School Program at U.Mass and editor of Applesauce for several years. A retired principal now.

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) was a reformist educator, author and philosopher who founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (the forerunner of the Soka Gakkai) in 1930. His life was characterized by confrontation with repressive authorities. As a teacher known for his warmth and consideration, he strove to introduce a more humanistic, student-centered approach to education. He fiercely opposed corrupt educational practices and was forced into an early retirement as a result. Later, he was imprisoned for opposing the policies of the Japanese militarist regime. He died in prison from malnutrition at the age of 73. In recent years his humanistic educational theories have been attracting increasing international attention.

Peter Marin, Bill Harwood, Grace Dailey, and Dave Lehman

Editors of the pioneering New Schools Exchange newsletter.

Lew Marks

Co-Founder of School Without Walls in Rochester, New York.

Before co-founding Rochester’s School Without Walls, Lew Marks taught English for 14 years: first in a junior high and a vocational high school in Brooklyn; and, after 1962, in a suburban academic high and a comprehensive city high school in Rochester. There, at the height of the 1968 riots, although most faculty argued for means to control the students, Lew and a handful of like-minded teachers, students and parents came to believe that the educational organization and content might themselves be provoking this behavior. They met weekly for more than a year, hammering out philosophy, organization and instructional modes that would free students and staff from the lockstep of the conventional school.

Lew became spokesman for the group and wrote the proposal detailing the School Without Walls. This proposal was presented to the Superintendent of Schools in January of 1971 and was approved by the Board of Education. The school opened in September 1971 as a public school with Lew as its first Principal. He remained with the school until his retirement in 1987. SWW is now in its 35th year of operation.

Michael Meade

"Michael Meade has been telling stories for over 20 years. He is the author of Men and the Water of Life (Harper, San Francisco). He has worked with Robert Bly, nationally known poet and teacher, for over 15 years. Michael has a special interest in the way stories reveal and bring to life a culture's mythology. He discusses the mythology and the ways the stories' images carry meaning for the listener."

George Meegan

The odyssey that brought Meegan to education reform was a several years journey on foot. It is covered in the book The Longest Walk – The Record of the First Crossing of Our Earth’s entire Americas. It was also the last of all the continents to be crossed, and by any means. For this kind of designation history records fewer than a dozen or so others, including Marco Polo’s father, Nicolo and uncle, Matteo (circa 1265AD) As pertaining Americas, there are three: Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1475 – 1517 (beheaded) / Atlantic to Pacific across the Isthmus of Panama at Darien; Francisco de Orellana – Pacific to Atlantic, over the Andes and rafting down the Amazon (1541); and Sir Alexander MacKenzie, Kt. Across North America – Canada’s Atlantic territories to the Pacific side of British Columbia (1793).

In 2001, on Point Barrow, Alaska, the last actions of the Millennium were put together, in support of a step towards the healing of First Nations children. The US agreed (nobly) to give formal Apology (on knees) and in these brave terms “… cowardly killing of woman and children.” This public gesture may be unique in American history. It was however completely ignored by school authorities and never followed-up. That such a thing is beyond modern education underlines why an Alternative is so deeply needed.

From the crucible of the journeys emerged Democracy Reaches the Kids an alternate approach. This, for the children that don’t fit in, if not indeed – all children, where (now) ALL children can – at last – become ‘the best that they can be.’ Before all else Democracy Education gives each child what he/she is going to need to be successful in the 21st Century. Unnecessary information in the school curriculum is stripped out and made up instead of the diamond like facets of each child’s life. Each pupil’s journey through education is explicitly acknowledged as unique. Embraced, encouraged and recognised. That, educationally speaking is Democracy Education!

It is a framework. Deliberately loose, it emphatically can, and naturally, encompass ALL the multitude of systems, both regular and alternative, that jostle out there. Individual styles, cultures, whatever, are all supported and defended. Perhaps that is why the US Government, after intense review, recognised Democracy Reaches the Kids by granting to it the only “extraordinary capacity” US visa ever issued in child education. The E11 US visa is rarer than the Olympic gold medal, being limited to 300 or so, worldwide, per annum. [It’s the visa most usually issued to the foreign Nobel laureates.]

Geoffrey Meegan (son) attended Summerhill School under head, Zoe Readhead. Mother Enna (A.S. Neill’s wife) was still at Summerhill then. Meegan, Senior says “Essentially, Summerhill saved Geoffrey’s life.”

Details see:-

Chris Mercogliano

Long time staff member and co-principal of the Albany Free School. Chris Mercogliano has been a teacher at the Free School in Albany, New York, since 1973, working with children from ages two to fourteen. In 1987 he was named co-director. An environmental activist, he has recently been appointed to the mayor's advisory committee on recycling and waste reduction. He is also an essayist, poet, organic farmer, mason, plumber, and journeyman carpenter. Author of Making It Up As We Go Along, a book about his experiences at the Free School over the past twenty years.

Roland Meighan

Founder of Heretics Press, Editor/Publisher of Education Now. Proponent of deschooling.

Alice Miller

A Swiss psychologist whose books include The Drama of Being a Child, For Their Own Good, The Drama of the Gifted Child and many others. Alice Miller has written several books on the causes and effects of childhood trauma. Her latest is titled Paths of Life: Seven Scenarios (Pantheon).

Ron Miller

Ron Miller, publisher of Holistic Education Review and Paths of Learning, author of What Are Schools For?, and Free Schools, Free People, and financial supporter of alternative education.

Jerry Mintz

Director, Alternative Education Resource Organization. Author of No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education. Editor of the Handbook of Alternative Education and Almanac of Education Choices. Founded and then directed the Shaker Mountain School in Vermont for 17 years, a democratic free school with a sliding scale tuition. He has homeschooled his niece, run an education radio show on Talk America, and speaks around the world about educational alternatives.

Maria Montessori

The founder of the educational method which bears her name, but her real significance lies deeper. She will go down in history as one who discovered and revealed to the world qualities in childhood different from and higher than those usually attributed to children. By giving freedom (in a biological sense) to children in a specially prepared environment, rich in motives of activities, she was able to show to an astonished world children of 4 1/2-5 1/2 years who learned to read and write spontaneously; who chose to work rather than play or eat sweets; who loved order and silence; who displayed long-sustained and quite spontaneous intellectual concentration; who developed a real social life in which mutual helpfulness took the place of competition; who, though able to carry on their life with astonishing independence of adult help, were nevertheless extraordinarily docile and obedient, and finally children in whom liberty, far from producing chaos, resulted in a hitherto unknown collective discipline.

Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Early pioneers in homeschooling.

Thomas Moore

His book The Education of the Heart is a kind of anthology of some of the most significant thoughts on the subject "soul" of thinkers from Aesclepius to Jung. It seems to me that the inclusion of the dimension of soul is one of the hallmarks of alternative education.

Arthur Morgan

Pioneer in higher education at Antioch University, Yellow Springs, Ohio, and one-time director of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Gene Mulcahu

Director of Shanti Alternative High School, early free school, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Joe Nathan

Helped found the St. Paul Open School and the Center for School Change at the Humphrey Institute. He was instrumental in starting the Charter School movement and he was a prime mover in the first charter statute in the U.S. He writes for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and has written several books on school reform. He has worked in alternative schools and written books on choice and charter schools. He strongly urges school reform on behalf of more student learning and directs the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota.

Alexander Sutherland Neill

Founder of Summerhill School in 1921. Author of many books on education, including Summerhill: a Radical Approach to Childrearing, in 1960, which many feel inspired the free school and alternative school movements. Directed Summerhill from 1921 until his death in 1973.

Susan Ohanian

Author, speaker & outspoken advocate against the current Standards movement, particularly as driven by high-stakes, fill-in-the-blank tests.

Keiko Okuchi

Founder of Tokyo Shure, the school for school refusers, which already has three branches, home education provision and a university; students, supported by a few staff, ran the 2000 International Democratic Education Conference.

Steve Orel

Steve Orel is the Coordinator of the World of Opportunity (WOO) in Birmingham, Alabama. WOO is an organization that was created out of necessity after Orel discovered students who scored low on tests were being pushout out of his local school district, because the district wanted to raise their scores. Steve works tirelessly to serve the local community and offer hope and opportunity to these students who have been pushed out of the local school system.

From the website:

World of Opportunity (WOO) is a social justice and civil rights educational and job readiness program. We work with adults and young adults studying for the GED. We also offer literacy, adult basic education, and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The World of Opportunity offers free vocational training in computers, computer electronics, health care (CNA – certified nurse aide class), AutoCAD, drafting, basic carpentry and electricity. Our objective in offering these courses is also to assist students to gain meaningful employment using these skills. All training is FREE! At the World of Opportunity (WOO) we teach with and learn from the whole person. Our students are human beings, not test scores. Curriculum is individually designed to meet each student's need and each student progresses at her or his own pace.

Robert Owen and William Maclure

In addition to founding New Harmony, IN with its emphasis on life long education, Robert Owen was an original proponent of early childhood education and credited by many with the creation of kindergarten. This was especially noteworthy beginning in Scotland due to his promotion and funding of education for the working class children of his mill workers. William Maclure, who was his financial partner, is in some ways more notable for his own efforts in education. William Maclure was largely responsible for the influence of Pestalozzi in the United States, personally paying to bring leading pestalozzian educators to the United States before teaming up with Owen. Several of these educators did join the experiment at New Harmony and their efforts and influence continued well beyond the community period. A good web source for educational efforts connected to historic and current communal experiments is the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana.

Parker Palmer

Lecturer, teacher, author of The Courage to Teach and To Know as We are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey.

Rita Panicker

Founder of Butterflies, the organization for street and working children in Delhi, India, which is run by meetings of the children themselves.

Joseph Chilton Pearce

"Well-known as author of six books: The Crack in the Cosmic Egg; Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg; Magical Child; Magical Child Matures; Bond of Power; and Evolution's End. Also well-known as an exceptional public speaker on human intelligence, creativity, and learning, Pearce has presented over 2,500 programs to date at most major universities in the United States and various institutions worldwide. His most recent addresses have been as a participant in a closed symposium on computers in education, U.C. Berkeley; in a closed symposium on educating for healthy children, Columbia University Teacher's College; at a conference on education in Bangkok, Thailand; and two addresses at a medical conference on birth-bonding in Chiang Mia, Thailand, sponsored by W.H.O. and UNICEF."

Royce Stanley Pitkin

Long-time President of Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont and higher education innovator.

Neil Postman

Prolific author and educator, Postman focused his attention on the issues of mass media, communication, and education. He placed particular emphasis on the negative effects of technology (such as television and computers) on society, especially on the tendency for that technology to control various parts of people's lives. His books directed towards that theme include The Disappearance of Childhood and Building a Bridge to the 18th Century. Postman wrote and lectured widely concerning education. His books ranged from radical criticisms of the education system, including The Soft Revolution and Teaching as a Subversive Activity to those that advocated more system-based reform such as Teaching as a Conserving Activity. Postman wrote a great deal on how the present system of education prevented real education through its focus on memorization rather than a focus on critical thinking. His most recent book on education is entitled The End of Education. Postman collaborated with Charles Weingartner on many of his books. A long-time professor of education and media ecology at NYU, Postman died in October, 2003.

Some recollections of Postman can be found here:

John Potter

Founder, New School of Northern Virginia and other schools.

Wendy Priesnitz

Canadian author, speaker, editor of Life Learning and Natural Life magazines, homeschooler for 30 years.

Daniel Quinn

Author, "Schooling: The Hidden Agenda"

Mary Anne Raywid

Mary Anne Raywid did more than any other author to promote general acceptance of alternative education as a valid and necessary approach to educating all youth. Her numerous articles are a foundation for anyone seeking to understand both the history and the meaning of alternative education.

Zoe Readhead

Head of Summerhill School, 1986-present, daughter of Summerhill Founder A.S. Neill. Leader of successful fight with English educational bureaucracy to retain her father’s philosophy of freedom for children.

Donn and Jean Reed

Originally led by the late Donn Reed, published the pioneering Homeschool Source Book. It's a comprehensive resource for all authodiacts, and self-learners, as well as homeschoolers. Jean has put out an expanded 3rd edition.

Willhelm Reich

Wilhelm Reich (1897 -1957) was a colleague of Sigmund Freud, but split with him over the interpretation of sexual energy. Reich proposed the concept of "muscular armoring," the penting up of emotional energy in the human body. He urged that young children be given more freedom, particularly natural sexual freedom, to prevent the illnesses due to pent up emotional energy. Reich established the Orgonomic Infant Research Center (ORIC) in Rangeley, Maine. It's goal was to prevent armoring in children in the early years of their lives. Much of his research and opions were adopted and put into practice by his close friend A.S. Neill.












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Carl Rogers


Psychotherapist, educator – wrote Freedom to Learn and On Becoming a Person, among others, and brought freedom into the world of higher education.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Wrote the Emile. Established the basis for democratic education by challenging the Platonian model of societies being run by an aristocratic elite, and espouse ones were all the members participated, working to the common good.

Bunker Roy

Mimsy Sadofsky

Pioneering founder, parent, and long time staff member at Sudbury Valley School.

Bret Schlesinger

Bret Schlesinger, founder of City as School innovative movement (USA).

George Schmidt

Educator & newspaper publisher. Was fired from his teacing job (despite exemplary performance in inner city schools) and sued for over 1 million dollars for exposing the sham of the CASE exams in Chicago Public Schools. His newspaper & printing press was confiscated by authorities by an ex parte order (the Government couldn't even stop the Pentagon papers ex parte). After delays, and delays, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal bills by the school district against Mr. Schmidt, the district eventually settled for $500 – to be paid only if and when all appeals are exhausted unsuccessfully.

Louis Schmier

From Valdosta State, publishes Random Thoughts and promotes alternative teaching in higher education through ISETA.

Chris Shute

John Simon

Original director of the "Dome Project" in Manhattan, author of To Become Somebody.

Ted Sizer

A leading educational reformer in the United States. He is University Professor Emeritus at Brown University and chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools, founded in 1983. Professor Sizer received his B.A. from Yale, his doctorate from Harvard and held several teaching positions before becoming dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard and, subsequently, the headmaster of Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. He is the Founding Director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. After retiring from Brown University, Professor Sizer took a position as Head of the Francis W. Parker Essential School. Since the late 1970s, he has worked with hundreds of high schools, studying the development and design of the American education system. Professor Sizer has published widely, including his acclaimed Horace-Series: Horace's Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School (1984), Horace's School: Redesigning the American High School (1992) and Horace's Hope: What Works for the American High School (1997). His most recent work is The Students are Watching: Schools and the Moral Contract (together with Nancy Faust Sizer, 1999).

Vern Smith

Co-founder of the International Consortium for Alternatives in Education (ICOPE). They founded the Changing Schools Newsletter and convened the two Wingspread Conferences on Alternaitves in Education. They also conducted national conferences for ten years after producing the first national conference in Minneapolis in 1973.

Herb Snitzer

Founder/director of the Lewis-Wadhams School in New York. Founded in the early 60’s; based directly on Summerhill School in England. Ran for 13 years.

Len Solo

Long time director of Graham and Parks School in Cambridge. Also founded and ran the "Teacher Dropout Center."

Artiom Soloveychik

Publisher and Editor-in-chief of First of September newspaper, in Russia, the first independent private educational newspaper in the new Russia, with a readership of 275,000. Also publisher of other books on education. Newspaper is published on the web in Russian. In a talk at Leslie College in 1998 Soloveychik said "Russian teachers are very good, very well educated and extremely dedicated to their profession, but it is a time for new energy, for innovative ideas and new vision for the teaching profession." September First is about to launch an expanded program in teacher education across Russia with the support from the Ministry of Education and local authorities.

Simon Soloveychik

Simon Soloveychik was one of the best Russian journalists in the field of free and alternative education. He brought to national prominence several members of the group of "teacher-innovators," including Vladimir Shatalov and Sofiya Lysenkova, whose teaching methods allowed students to liberate from their fears. Together with Vladimir Matveev and Alexander Adamsky he initiated a pedagogical movement called Pedagogy of Cooperation, which united those seeking radical reform in Soviet schools. From the perspective of this movement, the relationship between teachers and students becomes cooperative when teachers help students strengthen their dignity, and their faith in success. The same humanitarian ideas he brought into the field of parenting, a science about the art of upbringing children in families. Ten years of deep investigation of the development of human spirit and internal freedom were embodied in his book Parenting For Everyone. In 1992 he founded First of September, a teachers' newspaper. His manifest to this newspaper, Free Man, intended to promote the concepts of internal freedom, conscience, and duty among others ethical concepts. – Upbringing by Soloveychik

Joan Sorenson

Became a core teacher in 1966 and used the interests of students to form the curriculum. She served as principal of six schools including the EXPO Middle School which was one of the radical New American Schools. She was the principal of the St. Paul Area Learning Center which was a conglomerate of ten programs serving 12,000 students per year. She worked for progressive ideas in education consistently during her entire career including helping start the St. Paul Open School. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, Wayne Jennings.

Rudolph Steiner

Designed and founded Waldorf Schools. He made a deep study of philosophy, particularly the writings of Kant, but nowhere did he find a way of thinking that could be carried as far as a perception of the spiritual world. Thus Steiner was led to develop a theory of knowledge out of his own striving after truth, one which took its start from a direct experience of the spiritual nature of thinking. Steiner's most lasting and significant influence, however, has been in the field of education. In 1913 at Dornach, near Basel, Switzerland, Steiner built his Goetheanum, a "school of spiritual science." This would be a forerunner of the Steiner or Waldorf schools. The term "Waldorf" schools comes from the school Steiner was asked to open for the children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919. The owner of the factory had invited Steiner to give a series of lectures to his factory workers and apparently was so impressed he asked Steiner to set up the school. The first U.S. Waldorf school opened in New York City in 1928. Today, the Steinerians claim that there are more than 600 Waldorf schools in over 32 countries with approximately 120,000 students. About 125 Waldorf schools are said to be currently operating in North America. There is even a non-accredited Rudolf Steiner College offering degrees in Anthroposophical Studies or in Waldorf Education.

Alexandra Swann

1980's homeschooling poster-child and author of No Regrets: How Home Schooling Earned Me A Master's Degree At Age 16.

Rabindranath Tagore

Lois Tarling

Lois (Tarling) was an instigator in the 1970's of multi-age classes in (Queensland) State Schools; she is referred to in a number of Australian books for her work; she worked for some years at the Brisbane Independent School and was always focussed on empowering young people; she was a Founder of the Pine Community School; and was a Founder of The Booroobin Sudbury School. Instead of remaining retired (and working in her garden and beautiful house as one of the early settlers of Crystal Waters Permalculture Village just minutes down the road) she gives her time freely to the School because the School's values accord with her own. She started teaching at age 16 and remains a Queensland registered teacher at the age of 67. Lois has presented papers at a number of conferences. She is a wise and valued member of Booroobin, and was again re-elected in annual Staff elections by students and staff.

Leo Tolstoy

Aside from his literary achievements (Anna Karenina and War and Peace among others), Tolstoy was also a harsh critic of the education system in his native Russia. His criticism was not only appropriate for other parts of the world during the 1800's when he was alive, but is also appropriate for today's problems in education. He started and ran a radical village-school for peasants on his Yasnaya Polyana property from 1860 to 1863. The school was aptly named "Yasnaya Polyana." From the back cover of Tolstoy on Education: "Tolstoy allowed his pupils to come and go as they pleased, and insisted that teachers, too, should be free to teach what and at whatever length they wished." Aside from Tolstoy on Education (translated by Leo Weiner), other good books concerning his views on education are Tolstoy As Teacher: Leo Tolstoy's Writings on Education by Tolstoy and Robert Blaisdell, and Tolstoy as a Schoolmaster by Ernest Howard Crosby.

Dr. J. Lloyd Trump

Dr. J. Lloyd Trump was perhaps one of the five greatest public school educational leaders of the 20th century. As a professor at the University of Illinois he conducted the "Staff Utilization Studies" which led to differentiated staffing, team teaching, and flexible scheduling. As Associate Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, he advocated change and innovation, and created and implemented the Danforth Foundation Funded Model Secondary Schools Project.

In his early career he was a principal in the famed Gary Indiana Platoon System and Work-Study-Play philosophy. He advocated choices, options, and individualization. His film And No Bells Ring (NASSP), and his books Images of the Future (Rand) and A School for Everyone (NASSP) were landmark contributions. His life and educational contributions have been documented in a doctoral dissertation, J. Lloyd Trump, by William Shields, available through the University Library, Loyola University, Chicago, 2000.

Alexander Tubelsky

Head teacher of the School of Self Determination (Moscow, Russia). He has lead this first Russian democratic school for more then 10 years. He has recently organized an association of democratic schools of Russia. It now includes now over 20 schools. The number of such schools is increasing, thus widening the scope of democratic education. (In Russian. It is the net of all Russian innovative schools)

Leonard Turton

Founder, Odyssey House Community School, an alternative day school for students in grades 4 to 8. Founder, The Children's Learning Centre, a home school centre for primary children. Both places in Ontario, Canada. Creator of ClubHouse Democracy, a method of student democracy and student management for elementary children in state school classrooms that has been successfully introduced at the junior and intermediate levels. Leonard's journals explaining this method of state school democracy are in e-book format and at:

Robert van Nood

A founding teacher and board member of Trillium Charter School in Portland,
Oregon, Rob has been a long time advocate for democratic classrooms and

Kowit Varapipatana

Former director of department of Adult Education, Ministry of Education in Thailand. He created Khit Pen Learning Method, an alternative learning methodology especially for the poor and illiterate in Thailand, also helped alternative schools such as Moo Baan Dek as an administrator.

Lev Vygotsky

Educational theorist from Russia. Often compared to Piaget.

Don Waldrip

Sylvia Ashton Warner

Sylvia Ashton-Warner (1905–84) New Zealand British educator and novelist. Taught Maori and white European children. Essential for her were authentic relationships between teacher and learner based on meaningful discussion. She rejected traditional teaching methods and an imposed early learning curriculum in favor of her 'organic teaching', allowing the children's interest in each other and their natural creative impulses to shape the course of their learning. Her passion for life and great faith in humanity shines through the accounts of her work.

Extracts from Spearpoint by Sylvia Ashton – Warner at:

Dorothy Werner

Bill Wetzel

Organizer of 'Power to Youth' and 'Students Against Testing (S.A.T.)'

Rebeca and Mauricio Wild

Founders of the Fundación Educativa Pestalozzi in Ecuador. Rebeca Wild's books include Erziehung zum Sein and Sein zum Erziehen, and have been very influential in German-speaking countries.

Martin Wilke

Born in East-Germany, he developed his ideas of a free and democratic school system and a free and democratic society which includes equal rights for children when he was very young. He is a member and probably one of the most dynamic activists of KRÄTZÄ, a group of children and young people who became famous through a court battle against the German Constitution which reserves the right to vote only to people above the age of 18 “which contradicts the right of equal treatment by law,” said the Krätza-group. Inspired by the idea of the Sudbury Valley School, he wrote Lernen in Freiheit – Ideen für ein freiheitlich-demokratisches Bildungssystem (Learning in Freedom -ideas for a free and democratic educational system). He translated several texts and two books on the Sudbury Valley School into German (The Sudbury Valley School Experience, Free At Last) Sudbury and has thus spread the knowledge about free schools. He has inspired a great deal of school student activists in Germany. In 1999 he ran for a seat in the legislative chamber in the city of Berlin, through which he got enormous media attention especially for the topics of children’s right to vote. Together with other people is trying to start an Sudbury School in Berlin.

Ellen Winner

I found her book on "Gifted Children" inspirational especially in her recognition that gifted children are self-directed learners with "an insistence on marching to their own drummer". Equally important is her refuting of any close association between giftedness and high IQ (or ability to perform well in standardised tests). (her home page) (photo and Amazon link)

Tom Wise

Tom Wise is a teacher and a leader at the alternative education high school in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He began his teaching career(after a stint in the military), in 1973, founding the CEFOOSY(Continuing Education for Out-Of-School Youth) program. The CEFOOSY program grew and changed over the years, moving to it's present location at the Born Center in 1982. The alternative program is now known as North Lake High School and Mr. Wise is still a teacher-leader extraordinaire. Mr. Wise has received much recognition for his accomplishments over the years. In 1986-87, Wise was recognized as St. Clair Shores Adult & Community Education Teacher of the Year. In 1988, the Michigan Alternative Education Organization recognized Wise with its Teacher of the Year award. Mr. Wise has taught every basic subject over the years, with the exception of English. He specializes in Phys. Ed., Physiology, Health, Math, and the Sciences, but he has been certified in Student Advocacy and Guided Group Interaction. He currently teaches a class called Self-Discovery that is a popular class offering at North Lake High School.

Li Yaquing

Started Seedling School in Taiwan, and the present head of an experimental educational programme at secondary level in Taipei.

Deng Yunlin

Opened the door for ordinary citizens like Ms Li Yaquing to start “free” schools or independent schools, when he was a director of Taipen Prefectural Education Department.

Photo by Arthur Philips. A man and woman outside a bush hut. Phillips Glass Plate Negative Collection, Powerhouse Museum. Ca. 1900.

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