From Publishers Weekly
Mercogliano (Teaching the Restless) isn't the first to take the current over-controlling models of parenting and education to task, but the co-director of the Albany Free School ("a noncoercive, democratic inner-city school") is one of the most passionate, and he demonstrates compellingly how institutions, over-structured schedules and "hyperconcern" are robbing children of their childhood, smothering their creative spark and "inner wildness." Exploring the life cycle from birth to adulthood, Mercogliano covers a lot of ground, taking into account history, biology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and literature, as well as plenty of anecdotes. But even in his more intellectual moments, examining the work of leading scholars and experts (including Albert Einstein and Henry David), his message is simple: in order to save our children we must allow them time for solitude and play, and restrain the urge to pathologize (and medicate) their "disruptive" behavior. He makes a convincing plea for a return to a broader, less judgmental definition of childhood "normalcy," a term that used to evoke a "Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn archetype-brash, willful, naughty, rambunctious, aggressive, and always dirty." Showing parents and teachers how to curb the "domesticating" impulses that have turned growing up into "a carefully scripted medical procedure," Mercogliano's book, full of insight, enthusiasm and hope, is as readable and practical as it is illuminating.
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"Mercogliano is, in effect, a cultural therapist who accurately diagnoses and attentively ponders America's loss of childhood, offering fresh new ideas and creative solutions. Ultimately, he is what all good therapists are: a purveyor of hope. No one appreciates his message more than I, who grew up in the 1950s in rural Nebraska. He will help us care for our most valuable resource:children."—Mary Pipher, author of Writing to Change the World
"With deep insight, Mercogliano shows how our society is suppressing children’s creative energies. But he also brings a positive message, showing how we can help young people break through conventional restraints and pursue their passions. This is a beautiful, searching, and inspiring book."—William Crain, Professor of Psychology, The City College of New York, and author of Reclaiming Childhood: Letting Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented Society
"Chris Mercogliano’s provocative meditation on childhood sets up a dialectic among maple-sugaring, swan-diving in forest pools, shooting slingshots, and adventuring on the one hand, and the adult-supervised ‘play’ of the Little League, the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, and the Playground Movement on the other. Along the way are insights about the functions of solitude and self-organization that lead the reader to conclude: no self-organization means that no self worthy of the name will emerge. A very strong and attractive book."—John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling