Peruse this excellent website, Friends of the Modern School, to learn of the revolutionary educational doctrines being promoted in the early twentieth century. Spanish anarchist Franscisco Ferrer provided the intellectual foundations, with Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger, among many others, getting involved.
Irony Central informs us that the most radical rejecters of the state schooling system – the homeschoolers – are unfortunately either Puritan in orientation or, strangely, religious nationalists…or both. Part of this is due to the fact that much of the free-thought-in-education, anti-authoritarian aspects of the Modern School Movement have in in fact been incorporated into the government schools. The “Do Your Own Thing” movement, so to speak.
I’m suspicious of how effective this kind of teaching has been, while at the same time acknowledging that those that want to learn, and not have rote memorization and obedience imposed upon them, are the most eager to learn. I’ve written on this topic before, noting the importance of an environment more extensive than the immediate family to supplement and encourage “self-directed” learning.
(Hat tip: Joel Schlosberg)