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"What Are Schools For? engages my Masters in Teaching students in dialogue and debate about its ideas. Many students respond to the holistic paradigm with enthusiasm. Some are profoundly skeptical. Others consider it warily. In all cases, the book engages my students deeply in reflection on its central ideas and their reaction to them."
(David Marshak, Seattle University)
What Are Schools For?
Holistic Education in American Culture

Ron Miller

Full electronic book on CD-ROM $14.95

According to many futurists and cultural historians, a significant cultural shift has begun to occur: the decline of the modern, industrial era and the rise of a "postmodern" civilization that could usher in radical changes in politics, economics, and other social institutions, including education. One of the emerging strands of postmodern thought, known as holistic thinking, is an ecological worldview that is influenced by new scientific paradigms as well as ancient and indigenous spiritual traditions. As the founder of the journal Holistic Education Review, Ron Miller is among the best known and best informed interpreters of the holistic education movement. In What Are Schools For?, he describes this approach in a clear philosophical and historical perspective.

What Are Schools For? provides a concise account of the historical origins of American public schooling. Using a broad American Studies perspective that draws on research in social and intellectual history as well as a critical interpretation of educational theory, Miller identifies key cultural themes that have influenced the purpose, structure, and methods of modern educational institutions. He explains, for example, how the modern worldview associated with capitalism and scientific reductionism underlies conventional assumptions about schools, teaching, and learning. Miller then demonstrates that holistic education, grounded in a fundamentally different worldview, reflects very different assumptions about education and schooling.

Holistic education, as Miller explains it, has philosophical roots in the romantic and Transcendentalist movements of the nineteenth century, but it has developed into a sophisticated postmodern critique of contemporary schooling. What Are Schools For? defines the contributions that various dissident educators have made to the holistic critique, from Pestalozzi and Froebel, to Montessori and Steiner, to progressive and humanistic educators. This book is the only serious comparative study of these diverse alternative movements. It is a seminal text in the emerging literature of holistic education and has inspired teachers, administrators, and graduate students across the United States.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition


Part One: Cultural Roots of American Education

Themes of American Education
Education in Early America
Education in the Modern Age

Part Two: Holistic Critiques of American Education

Education for a Postmodern Age
Pioneers of Holistic Education
John Dewey and Progressive Education
Imported Holistic Movements
The Education Crisis: 1967-1972
Education for Human Potential
Goals 2000: Triumph of the Megamachine
Education for the 21st Century



Psychology Press/Holistic Education Press
Box 328, Brandon, VT 05733-0328