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In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids' Inner Wildness Hardcover – August 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807032867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807032862
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,951,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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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Review

"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

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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It's an easy book to read, it's packed with good ideas, and good advice.
Funky Mo-Unky
If you are a parent, teacher, or anyone else who works with kids...PLEASE buy this book AND read it!!!
C. Lock
THe book shows us how some of our modeern fears has come to be, and why they have gone awry.
Rosie Mills

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Funky Mo-Unky on July 31, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wasn't expecting much from this book mostly because there are so many books on "protecting childhood." When you think about it, what child development or parenting book isn't directed towards improving a child's life. This book, more or less seemed like a general over view of how to let kids be kids. I couldn't have been more WRONG. This is a fantastic, very well written and comprehensive look at childhood at it's best, and how we're bringing out childhood at its worst.

To be honest the overall point of this book comes across a bit radical at times, but his ideas are sound. I think it's just an odd thought to let kids have more control over their own lives because we're so used to monitoring every aspect of their lives. Which is precisely the point of this book. His approach to education was so unusual it made me shake my head at times. He works at the Albany Free School which is a school that allows children to learn whatever they want, whenever they want....and what that school does is mind boggling if you're used to the structure of an everyday public school. But after reading this book, and doing some research on the school since then I am planning on taking a trip up to New York to check this school out because what they're doing is working, and as radical as it's concept might be, it is turning out some very innovative, creative, and self reliant children into the world. I have to see it for myself.

What is so impressive about this book is it's not necessarily a "parenting" book or a research oriented book, but Mercogliano covers his theme using history, biology, psychology, sociology, education theory, philosophy, literature, and personal accounts in addition to basic parenting advice, all of which is based with solid research.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. I've heard many times about the importance of play -- this book explains it. It shows me an uncertain path to the outcome that I want -- children that grown into self-reliant, resilient happy adults, who can meet with setbacks and still find their way into a productive niche in the adult world. Uncertain because their are no guarantees -- this is not a program of steps, instead this book encourages you (with many research studies cited) to trust that, given appropriate freedom, you children will successfully find their own way into the adult world. Protect you children from over-scheduling and domestication. Don't let control (as practiced in most schools) be the overwhelming force in their lives. Did over-education steal your inner guide from you? Save it in your children.
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I love this book and what I love most about it is the hard work, effort and courage that Chris Mercogliano put into the children that would have been considered outcasts in society. He took the time to examine more deeply what would allow these children to move past their inner conflicts, their fears and come into their own and shine past all the judgements from those who did not understand them, who did not understand the family system they came from and what was holding them back! I would recommend this book to anyone raising children and for those who suffered abuse of any kind in their own childhoods so they may learn to free the chains holding them back today. Your essence will feel lliberated!
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This is an absolute "Must Read" for anyone involed with children in some way. Chris Mercogliano has done an amazing job laying out the history of childhhod from it's origins as a seprate developmental stage, to the present. This book masterfully highlights both the sucesses and flaws of our modern thinking on children and their education and development. THe book shows us how some of our modeern fears has come to be, and why they have gone awry. I hope many people will read this book and appy its lessons.
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