Teachers College Press









Democratic Education in Practice
Inside the Mission Hill School

Matthew Knoester
Foreword by Deborah W. Meier
Practitioner Inquiry
Pub Date: November 2012, 208 pages

Paperback: $32.95, ISBN: 0807753807
Cloth: $74.00, ISBN: 0807753815
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“Matthew Knoester has done us an enormous favor by showing us, in detail, what could be—one example of how schools can be the building blocks for democracy, recreating community for all to taste, feel, hear, and see.”
—From the Foreword by Deborah W. Meier

“This is exactly the kind of book that is so necessary at this time. Schools can be respectful, responsive, and caring places. Matthew Knoester gives us a detailed picture of such a school. If more people would read books such as this, the national debate on education would be all the better for it.”
Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“Knoester’s account of the Mission Hill School captures the ‘habits of mind’ needed if public schools are to be truly democratic in spirit and in practice, centered on the children, and, as Deborah Meier so powerfully advocates, protected from those policies and social forces that accept and perpetuate disengagement and inequality in our children's education.”
Linda McSpadden McNeil,Professor of Education, Rice University; author of Contradictions of School Reform

“To those who have never seen the Mission Hill School in Boston, it may sound like a magical place. The good news is that it is real and Knoester shows us through his compelling narrative how and why they have been able to achieve so much. For educators, students, and parents this book will be a source of inspiration. At a time when our policymakers and many so-called reformers are actively undermining support for public education, this important book will serve as a reminder that we can do a much better job at educatingallchildren.”
Pedro Noguera,Executive Director,MetropolitanCenter for Urban Education,New YorkUniversity

The Mission Hill School, founded by MacArthur Award winner Deborah Meier and colleagues in 1997, is a small public school that has rethought almost everything about the process of teaching and learning. Beyond richly describing and evaluating this high-achieving school, the author argues that democratic education is increasingly difficult in this era of testing and standardization and that a school such as Mission Hill must be continually thoughtful, innovative, and courageous in counteracting systemic inequality. This in-depth examination is essential reading for anyone interested in how to better understand seemingly intractable problems related to urban public education in the United States.

Book Features:

  • An exemplary model of democratic education that shows the inner workings of a largely teacher-governed school.
  • A rare example of an urban school implementing Dewey-influenced progressive pedagogy.
  • In-depth descriptions of an anti-racist and culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum.
  • A close examination of successful practices, including shared decision making, intensive problem solving, and looking at student work.
MatthewKnoesteris a National Board Certified Teacher and former teacher at the Mission Hill School in Boston. He received his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Evansville.

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