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John I. Goodlad has been an unflagging voice for humanistic ideals in education for more than six decades and has helped reframe the modern discourse on the role and function of schools. For Goodlad the goal of public education is to help children become free and full participants in a democratic society by instilling them with a love of learning and a sense of civic responsibility—goals that are incompatible with our present system of schooling that teaches to standardized tests.

In Romances with Schools, John Goodlad steps out from behind the public persona of distinguished scholar and advocate for public schooling to offer a moving personal account of a life devoted to educating the young. He deftly interweaves fascinating personal details with reflections on many of the larger issues in education that he has explored throughout his career.

John’s early encounters with formal schooling began just before the Great Depression in Canada with the humble North Star School. From there we are taken through sixty-plus years in education, starting with John’s first teaching job as the sole instructor of a one-room schoolhouse through his years as an education activist, dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education, and national voice for educational renewal. Along the way, he treats us to vivid characterizations of the men, women, and above all, children who shaped him as a person and inspired his thinking on education. Romances with Schools is both a poignant memoir and a persuasive argument for the need to renew public education to fit the demands of a free society.

Stephen Goodlad, John’s son, has written a moving Prologue to the book that provides behind-the-scenes insight into John’s life. An Epilogue by Roger Soder, a long-time colleague, places John’s work of school renewal in the context of political change.

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