“Human sal­va­tion lies in the hands of the cre­atively mal­ad­justed.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Education is the sub­ject of much public debate. Politicians and bureau­crats, edu­ca­tors and par­ents, stu­dents and con­cerned cit­i­zens all have an interest — and a stake — in the way we edu­cate our chil­dren. But while much is said about the sub­ject, seldom are the more pro­found, dif­fi­cult ques­tions ever asked, ques­tions that require not only changing the way schools are orga­nized and classes are taught, but also require a rad­ical trans­for­ma­tion of the very con­cept of edu­ca­tion in the modern world. Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto approaches the problem of edu­ca­tion from just such a rad­i­cally new per­spec­tive.

The book includes a for­ward by edu­ca­tion scholar and activist Bill Ayers. “Theodore Richards points us toward a more vibrant and lib­er­ated space where edu­ca­tion is linked to an iron com­mit­ment to free inquiry, inves­ti­ga­tion, open ques­tioning, and full par­tic­i­pa­tion,” he writes, “an approach that encour­ages inde­pen­dent thought and judg­ment; and a base- line stan­dard of full access and com­plete recog­ni­tion of the humanity of each indi­vidual. He demon­strates the power of learning from, not about: from nature, not about nature, from work, not about work, from his­tory not about his­tory. As opposed to obe­di­ence and con­for­mity, the work pro­motes ini­tia­tive, courage, imag­i­na­tion, and cre­ativity. In other words, the highest pri­ority is the cre­ation of free people geared toward enlight­en­ment and lib­er­a­tion.”

Nearly every dis­cus­sion about schools assumes that the goals of our edu­ca­tional system are appro­priate and worth­while. The nar­ra­tive of the modern indus­trial world that defines our values and shapes the metaphors with which we under­stand our world also deter­mines how we shape our schools, our cur­ricula, our chil­dren. From the White House to the little red school­house, these values are seldom ques­tioned. The debate about schools is about test scores, pro­duc­tivity, and quan­tifi­able out­comes. Creatively Maladjusted argues that these values both under­mine our children’s learning and, in the cases where chil­dren are “suc­cessful”, guide our chil­dren toward destruc­tive, rather than cre­ative lives.

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