“Loves Mankind, Hard on People” – Bronson Alcott, Mr. Keating, and the Dangers of Putting Ideals before Students

This an amazing post from one of our readers, a young educator who spoke for the first time at the Summer Conversational Series this summer. She certainly made me rethink “Dead Poet’s Society,” one of my favorite movies.

edreverie

Orchard HouseI have spent the last week at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, attending their annual Summer Conversational Series. (As an aside, it is my second year attending the SCS, and it’s an amazing experience. If you haven’t been, and you area fan of the Alcott’s, transcendentalism, philosophy, or education, you really need to go!)

Anyway, there are SO many things I have taken from this week that I will probably be writing about for a long while. However, there is a certain phrase that stuck with me especially, and is where I will begin the first of many SCS 2015 reflections.

At Thursday’s SCS session, John Matteson, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Eden’s Outcasts, took questions and led discussion on “all things Alcott.” Bronson Alcott became a subject of conversation here, and he was subject to criticism (as Bronson Alcott seems to always be) for…

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Summer Conversational Series 2014: Bronson Alcott as the father of modern child psychology

My thanks again to Kristi Martin for sharing her notes and her photos with this site. Kristina West's presentation highlighted the educational work of Bronson Alcott and his role as arguably the father of modern child psychology. This is one workshop I wish I had not missed. West’s careful study of Bronson serves to redeem him …

The reality of the one-room schoolhouse makes Bronson Alcott look pretty good …

Ever long to go to school as a child in a one-room schoolhouse? Sound romantic? The school of Bronson Alcott's childhood Madelon Bedell in The Alcotts: Biography of a Family described the nature of school in the days of Bronson’s childhood (early 1800s in Connecticut). If you were a child, would you want to be where: …

Eight Cousins: Educating Rose

Uncle Alec affected big changes in Rose’s life as chapters 7 and 8 of Eight Cousins demonstrate.Joy lackingEarly in the book, there were several reasons why Rose was a timid, teary child (the untimely death of her dear father, too many “cooks in the kitchen” with all her aunts, etc.). Much of the joy had been …

What were Bronson Alcott’s educational reforms? Here’s a simpler approach

From time to time I have posted about Bronson Alcott, mainly from my reading of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson. I had been wanting to find a simpler explanation of Bronson's educational reforms; they were considered quite radical in his day but over time became incorporated …

Book Review: Louisa May Alcott Her Girlhood Diary

Since a children's biography (The Story of Louisa May Alcott by Joan Howard) introduced me to Louisa, I have a special fondness for children's books on the subject. During a recent trip to the Worcester Public Library, I discovered Louisa May Alcott Her Girlhood Diary, edited by Cary Ryan with illustrations by Mark Graham. It …

Finding an ally and a lifelong partner: Bronson Alcott, part 4 (reflections on Eden’s Outcasts)

Part 4 of a series on Bronson Alcott: his rise, fall and redemption, based on reflections from John Matteson’s biography Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father If you want to refresh your memory on previous posts in this series, here are the links: Read Part One here Read Part Two here …