The former director of the American Association of School Administrators outlines a coherent countervision for turning schools back into places that nurture children.

How it Ought to Be

How it ought to be

You see things; and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”

—George Bernard Shaw

On my visits to other countries, I have often thought that although American critics like to trash American public schools, we still have the best education in the world. I had never seen a classroom in another country that I would trade with an American classroom—until that day, and the subsequent days I spent in New Zealand. What I witnessed was students engaged in meaningful learning activities. Their motivation was off the chart, and their focus on the work was stunning.

I stepped into the classroom, which was buzzing with the excited voices of children. The room ...

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