Blogs » Learning in Freedom » The Totalitarian Temptation in Democratic Schools


As I was chopping up some carrots and zucchini for my vegetable alfredo lasagna two seemingly unrelated entities came to my mind. A book I had read several years ago and a school that no longer exists.

A few years ago while browsing a used book sale at The Victoria College I picked up a book titled, "The Totalitarian Temptation." It had something to do with how in democracies citizens eventually vote themselves into totalitarianism. (If someone else has read the book please correct me if I'm wrong because that's my impression of the book via my "memory's eye," which is blind, after several years.)

I was remembering the Sudbury School that had invited John Taylor Gatto to speak. I recently posted that three year old post here. I was wondering what happened to that school. At the time of the lecture the school was struggling financially. They never turned any child away so they picked up most of the expenses.

Anyone know what happened to that school? I had heard rumors that the students renamed it. I think I remember seeing a website that they had created.

I had recently read somewhere that these types of schools eventually morph into something that looks more traditional over time as the parents start to demand more control of the curriculum and demand more traditional looking results. So the democratic school goes totalitarian and eventually looks just like any another school, though the radical philosophy of educational freedom is what originally attracted parents.

I had never thought of "The Totalitarian Temptation" being evident in the microcosm of alternative education. I'm kinda "ding dong" like that as you all know.

Anyway, the whole thing blew me away and I had to share.

And my lasagna is ready!

FYI: A free school is a school in which children direct their education and help design their curriculum. The teacher's role is facilitator of learning.