Deborah Meier resists popular ideas on education reform
The College of Education welcomed author, educator, and scholar Deborah Meier to campus during American Education Week. Meier’s career in education spans nearly five decades, including work in K–12 public schools in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. She founded several highly successful, small, democratically run urban schools: the Central Park East Schools in New York City and Mission Hill School in Boston.
Meier is the author of several books, including The Power of Their Ideas, In Schools We Trust, and Playing for Keeps: Life and Learning on a Public School Playground. In 198, she became the first educator to receive a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Award.
In Meier’s public presentation, she discussed the challenges of implementing No Child Left Behind, threats to providing a democratic public school education to all students, and the privatization of education.
“It is my hope that we resist some of the popular ideas of education reform,” Meier said. “Many of these ideas come from those who want to make money off of schools.”
Meier’s latest book, Playing for Keeps, is set in Mission Hill School, a K–8 school that she and her colleagues founded in 1997. The book focuses on children’s experiences during recess in the school’s unique play area, which was devoid of traditional playground equipment such as slides and ladders. Meier and her colleagues write about how the children learned to play, create, and develop new understanding of themselves and the world around them with just a blacktop, basketball hoops, and nature at their disposal.
“We were amazed at how interesting kids were in a playground that required them to be imaginative about how to use things,” said Meier.