For the Love of Learning – Alternative Education – Past, Present & Future -#43

For the Love of Learning Episode 43



Show Title:

For the Love of Learning Episode 43

Alternative Education – Past, Present & Future


Monday December 14, 2015  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST
Tuesday December 15, 2015 1:00 am – 3:00 am GMT

Special Guests:

Wayne Jennings
Bernard Bull
Chris Mercogliano

In this episode we are going to explore Alternative Education – Past, Present & Future.

According to Ron Miller who wrote in an article entitled ‘A Brief History of Alternative Education:
“Public schooling was first organized in the 1830’s to provide a common, culturally unifying educational experience for all children, yet from the very beginning, certain groups of educators, parents, and students themselves have declined to participate in this system. Their reasons are various, and the forms of schooling–and nonschooling–that they have chosen instead are equally diverse.

The history of alternative education is a colorful story of social reformers and individualists, religious believers and romantics; despite their differences, however, they share an especially strong interest in young people’s social, moral, emotional and intellectual development, and, more deliberately than most public school programs…”

Today we find ourselves living in an information-rich society and many believe that learning should take place outside of compulsory state run institutions. Some believe that young people should have access to mentors, internships and apprenticeships that can nurture their diverse interests. Others believe individualized study is a better alternative. There are those that have adapted holistic approaches, from democratic schools, project based learning and countless other modalities.

But what is the role of alternative education? And is it even possible for alternative education to replace today’s mainstream institutionalized public education?

In the 1983 report by President Reagan’s Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk, was a powerful statement citing traditional goals as the objective of American public schooling. According to the report, public education supports social efficiency, the nation’s economic growth through a tidal wave of political grandstanding, legislative mandates, and frantic “restructuring” intended to produce better disciplined citizens and workers for a competitive global economy. Not much has changed since this mandate.

The history public education criss crosses with the alternative education movement, coinciding with social and political changes. It is important to look at the past in order to understand the present state of education. But equally important, understanding history is vital to designing the future of alternative education. Tonight we will look at this movement throughout time with a very special panel.

Bios of Tonight’s Guests:

Wayne Jennings

wayneWayne Jennings during 60 years in school work has been a teacher, principal, superintendent, school board member, adjunct professor and business owner. He began his teaching when he was assigned to be an instructor while serving in the Army during the Korean Conflict.

He received his under graduate and graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota. He has started eight schools during his education career including the famous St. Paul Open School.

He authored many articles and four books. For 18 years he published the internationally recognized Brain Compatible Learning newsletter. He has been the president of a state education organization and a national education organization. He is chair of the board of the International Association for Learning Alternative and for years managed it’s newsletter website.

Awards: 1998 by Minnesota Association for Alternative Programs for their Exemplary Contributions to Alternative Education award; 2006 as one of the 100 foremost graduates of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education; 2015 Lifetime achievement award from the High School for Recording Arts. His achievements were described in the book, The Educational Entrepreneur. A St. Paul charter school is named after him.

He is married to Joan Sorenson, a distinguished alternative educator, now retired. They have a daughter who lives in Oakland, CA.

His chief interest now is the transformation of schooling so that all students become outstanding citizens, productive workers, lifelong learners and fulfilled people.

He is writing a book on what schooling should be based on his experiences, research and effective practices.

Bernard Bull

bernard bullDr. Bernard Bull is Assistant Vice President of Academics and Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University Wisconsin. He is a frequent keynote speaker and consultant on topics related to educational innovation and entrepreneurship with clients ranging from Harvard Business Publishing and think tanks to education startups, Universities, charter schools, and new school developments. He is also the recent co-founder of Birdhouse Learning Labs, an education company committed to designing unconventional, high-impact educational products and services. His work, writing and consulting focuses on the love of learning, self-directed learning, emerging and alternatives models of P-20 education, futures in education, educational innovation, educational entrepreneurship, and the intersection of education and digital culture. He blogs on these topics at
and you can follow him on Twitter, @bdean1000

Chris Mercogliano

chrisChris Mercogliano recently concluded a thirty-five-year career at the Albany Free School, the oldest inner-city alternative school in the U.S. He is 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). His essays, commentaries, and reviews have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and journals, as well as in seven anthologies; and he has also been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio’s “Ideas,” and many 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.




Lainie Liberti

As always, you can find out more about your host, Lainie Liberti at her website and the alternative education & world schooling project she runs with her teenage son at: You can also connect with her on twitter @ilainie & facebook.

For full archives of this show and programming schedule, please visit: 

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