Thursday, March 07, 2013

Thursday Interview - In Defense of Childhood with Chris Mercogliano

Join me Thursday, March 7th, for a live and interactive conversation with Chris Mercogliano, author of In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids' Inner Wildness. 

"The pressures of modern life are increasingly squeezing the adventure, the wonder, the physicality--the juice--out of children's lives. Virtually every arena of kids' experience is now subject to some form of outside control, and this is a serious threat to the unique spark that animates every child. Lamenting risk-averse parents, overstructured school days, and a lack of playtime and solitude, this book is a clear and compelling plea to save childhood" (from the publishers description).

From Publishers Weekly (emphases mine):
Mercogliano... isn't the first to take the current over-controlling models of parenting and education to task, but the co-director of the Albany Free School ("a noncoercive, democratic inner-city school") is one of the most passionate, and he demonstrates compellingly how institutions, over-structured schedules and "hyperconcern" are robbing children of their childhood, smothering their creative spark and "inner wildness." Exploring the life cycle from birth to adulthood, Mercogliano covers a lot of ground, taking into account history, biology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and literature, as well as plenty of anecdotes. But even in his more intellectual moments, examining the work of leading scholars and experts (including Albert Einstein and Henry David), his message is simple: in order to save our children we must allow them time for solitude and play, and restrain the urge to pathologize (and medicate) their "disruptive" behavior. He makes a convincing plea for a return to a broader, less judgmental definition of childhood "normalcy," a term that used to evoke a "Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn archetype-brash, willful, naughty, rambunctious, aggressive, and always dirty." Showing parents and teachers how to curb the "domesticating" impulses that have turned growing up into "a carefully scripted medical procedure," Mercogliano's book, full of insight, enthusiasm and hope, is as readable and practical as it is illuminating.
Please join us for what promises to be a pretty fascinating interview.

Date: Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Time: 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate). Log in at The Blackboard Collaborate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Blackboard Collaborate, please visit the support and configuration page.
Recording:  A full Blackboard Collaborate recording is at and an audio mp3 recording is at and at
Mightybell:  A Mightybell space with interview resources and to continue the conversation is at

Chris Mercogliano was a teacher at the Albany Free School for thirty-five years and stepped down as director in June, 2007 to concentrate on writing and speaking about non-controlling education and childrearing. His essays, commentaries and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, as well as in four anthologies: Challenging the Giant (Down to Earth Books 1992), Deschooling Our Lives (New Society Press 1996), Creating Learning Communities (Foundation for Educational Renewal 2000), and Field Day: Getting Society Out of School (New Star Books 2003). He is also the author of Making It Up As We Go Along, the Story of the Albany Free School (Heinemann 1998), Teaching the Restless, One School's Remarkable No-Ritalin Approach to Helping Children Learn and Succeed (Beacon Press 2004),  How to Grow a School: Starting and Sustaining Schools That Work (Oxford Village Press 2006), and In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids’ Inner Wildness (Beacon Press 2007).

Currently Chris is a regular columnist for Encounter magazine. He has been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio's “Ideas,” and other nationally syndicated radio shows. The father of two wonderful daughters, he lives with his wife Betsy on a one-acre farm in downtown Albany, New York.

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