Let's Kill Dick and Jane

978-1-58731-919-8
Cloth $26
176 pages, 6" x 9", introduction, afterword, index

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Let's Kill Dick and Jane

How the Open Court Publishing Company Fought the Culture of American Education

Henderson, Harold

To become lifelong learners, students need to be able to work and play in the world of ideas as easily as they do in the world of objects and feelings. But the culture of American education focuses on drills and projects with no clear connection to this goal.

Reforms come and go, yet American public schools stay much the same. Their culture is pervasive and almost invisible, as water is to a fish. Nothing much is going to change until it changes, and no one reform can unlock it. Quite the opposite: its anti-intellectual, activity-oriented bias turns reforms that sound good on the 10 pm news into more routines for the 9 am class.

For thirty-four years, from 1962 to 1996, Open Court Publishing Company sold elementary math and reading textbooks that tried to combat the culture and bring about real school reform. Stories from the company’s struggles help make this culture visible.

Harold Henderson is a graduate of Carleton College and has been a staff writer at the Chicago Reader since 1985.