As comes up every so often in my reviews, I work in Public History, specifically historic sites. A decent portion of my reading each year is about educational theory and practice as well as practical research for topics that are coming up in my programming. As part of my continuing professional development I attended a webinar about inquiry based learning, which is my favorite informal learning model, in which Teaching as a Subversive Activity came up as a possible reading to share with other staff and volunteers. Before I dared venture into that idea, I thought I better read it. This was a good choice.
Published in 1969 this book is not outdated, but it does take a radical approach to the work that can and should be done outside the typical classroom model which might feel out of place to the modern reader. Much of the book is spent deriding the ways in which schools fail their students by failing to meet their needs and repressing their natural learning inclinations. While I was interested to see that the arrival of ‘modern’ society in the post-war era lead to many of the problems we still see, the ways in which a complete overhaul of public education seemed perhaps a bridge too far for me to really embrace.
There were some practical hints and tips for incorporating inquiry based and student centered teaching and learning into your repertoire and I can only sing the praises of those methodologies, but I don’t think that this is the book to get you to these practices, even though it is an interesting anthropological read in its own right at this point.