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The tradition of active learning--a view of learning that is constructivist, progressive, and as deeply committed to student achievement as any standards-based scheme--has a long and distinguished pedigree in American educational thought and practice, but its value has been ignored in the rush to achieve high test scores. Martin Bickman urges us to reconsider the alternative vision of such seminal thinkers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, John Dewey, and George Dennison as he weaves an incisive synthesis of American literary innovation, philosophy, and school reform. In this timely volume, Bickman: - Presents an antidote to the self-destructive war between educational conservatives and progressives, arguing that each has only part of the solution. -Outlines our rich tradition of educational thought, suggesting ways to apply it to current reform efforts. -Provides a new paradigm for re-conceptualizing our educational past, urging us to move in the direction of our best and most characteristic literary and philosophical thinkers. -Shows how fields like the history and philosophy of American education can be dynamically related to our classroom practice.