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Paperback – 272 pages
6 Inches × 9 Inches (w × h)

Weight: 426 Grams
BISAC: EDUCATION / Non-Formal Education
Publisher: New Society Publishers
ISBN: 9780865719040
Pub. Date: 2019-05-07

About the Author

James Rietmulder

James Rietmulder is a founding staff member and educator at The Circle School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a pioneering democratic school, where he has worked for 34 years. With his support, students at The Circle School practice freedom and responsibility in a scaled-down version of the larger world, becoming experts at life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Jim also tutors students to take college entrance exams, plays mixed-age soccer at every opportunity, and anchors the daily Critical Thinking Discussion Group. Prior to, and overlapping with, The Circle School's early years, Jim was a history magazine editor, business analyst, independent software developer, and management consultant to manufacturers. Jim is married to co-founder Beth L. Stone and is the father of two Circle School graduates. He lives in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania.

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When Kids Rule the School

The Power and Promise of Democratic Education

by James Rietmulder



Education is ripe for democratic disruption. Students in most schools are denied fundamental social ideals such as personal freedom, public government, rule of law, and free enterprise. In our increasingly authoritarian post-truth world, self-directed democratic schooling offers a timely alternative: educating children in civilized society and showing that self-motivation outperforms coercion in its power to educate and fulfill.

When Kids Rule the School is the first comprehensive guide to democratic schooling, where kids practice life in a self-governed society—empowered as voters, bound by laws, challenged by choice, supported by community, and driven by nature. Through heartwarming stories and hard-headed details, this book covers:

  • Democratic schooling philosophy, theory, and practice
  • School governance by students and staff together
  • Student self-direction and day-to-day life
  • Deep play, cognitive development, and critical thinking
  • Why democratic schooling is morally right and effective
  • Model bylaws and guidance for starting a democratic school.

Created for educators, parents, and scholars, When Kids Rule the School will immerse you, heart and mind, in a promising new approach to education, and stretch your thinking about what school can be.

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