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Proponents of large-scale learning have boldly promised that technology can disrupt traditional approaches to schooling, radically accelerating learning and democratizing education. In "Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education," Justin Reich delivers a sobering report card on the latest supposedly transformative educational technologies.

Reich takes readers on a tour of auto-graders, computerized “intelligent tutors,” and other educational technologies whose problems and paradoxes have bedeviled educators. Technology does have a crucial role to play in the future of education, Reich concludes. We still need new teaching tools, and classroom experimentation should be encouraged. But successful reform efforts will focus on incremental improvements, not the next killer app.

As the head of Open Learning at MIT, renowned professor Sanjay Sarma has a daunting job description: to fling open the doors of the MIT experience for the benefit of the wider world. But if you're going to undertake such an ambitious project, you first have to ask: How do we learn?  What are the most effective ways of educating? And how can the science of learning transform education to unlock our potential, as individuals and across society?

The new book, "Grasp" takes readers across multiple frontiers, from fundamental neuroscience to cognitive psychology and beyond, as it explores the future of learning. 

Our Falling into Place series spotlights the important work of -and fosters collaboration between- not-for-profit organizations in our communities; allowing us all to fall into place.

Falling Into Place is supported by The Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation, Providing a helping hand to turn inspiration into accomplishment. See more possibilities … see more promise… see more progress.

Today, we’ll learn about The Free School in Albany, New York.

Founded in 1969, The Free School is the longest running inner-city independent alternative school in the United States. The school provides an alternative to traditional models of education by offering children a self-directed approach to their learning. We are joined by Director of The Albany Free School Deirdre Kelly and educator, EPIC program director and Free School Radio Executive Producer Gerald Malcolm.

In "Work, Love, and Learning in Utopia: Equality Reimagined," psychological anthropologist Martin Schoenhals argues that the negative emotions of sadness, anger, and fear evolved in tandem with hierarchy, while happiness evolved separately and in connection to prosociality and compassion.

The book covers a range of human concerns, from economics and education, to media and communication, to gender and sexuality. Schoenhals argues that equality of love is as important and possible as is economic equality.

When Lois Letchford learns her son has been diagnosed with a low IQ at the end of grade one, she refuses to give up on his future. After thorough testing, Nicholas proves to have no spatial awareness, limited concentration, and can only read ten words.

Nicholas is labeled "learning disabled," a designation considered more derogatory than "dyslexia," the world of education is quick to cast him aside. Determined to prove them all wrong, Lois temporarily removes her son from the school system and begins working with him one-on-one.

What happens next is a journey: spanning three continents, unique teaching experiments, never-ending battles with the school system, a mother’s discovery of her own learning blocks, and a bond fueled by the desire to rid Nicholas of the “disabled” label.

Lois Letchford's book is "Reversed: A Memoir."

Jal Mehta is Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he has received the Morningstar Award, presented annually to the best teacher at the school. He is author of "The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling."

With Sarah Fine he has co-authored a new book entitled "In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School."

The story they tell is alternately discouraging and hopeful. Drawing on hundreds of hours of observations and interviews at thirty different schools, Mehta and Fine reveal that deeper learning is more often the exception than the rule. And yet they find pockets of powerful learning at almost every school, often in electives and extracurriculars as well as in a few mold-breaking academic courses. These spaces achieve depth, the authors argue, because they emphasize purpose and choice, cultivate community, and draw on powerful traditions of apprenticeship. These outliers suggest that it is difficult but possible for schools and classrooms to achieve the integrations that support deep learning: rigor with joy, precision with play, mastery with identity and creativity.

Over the course of his distinguished career, Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions -- including Union College in Schenectady.

Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American.

The book is entitled The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For

  After thirty-five years as a book editor in New York City, Ann Patty stopped working and moved to the country. Bored, aimless, and lost in the woods, she hoped to challenge her restless, word-loving brain by beginning a serious study of Latin at local colleges.

As she begins to make sense of Latin grammar and syntax, her studies open unexpected windows into her own life.

Her book is Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin.

   Little children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms, learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain. 

  In The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers real-life solutions to real-life issues, with nuance and direction that takes us far beyond the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play.

  Who gets to go to college? Who can afford it and what are you getting for your money? Is it smart to go into massive debt to get a degree? What is the future of education in America and what does that future mean for the workplace, the government, our children and colleagues, and for ourselves?

These questions around education and access come as college prices have exploded and whole generations are sinking deeper into college debt. At the same time, tech entrepreneurs and professors from some of the world’s most elite universities have been racing to revolutionize higher education with massive college courses taught—for free—online.

In The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, education researcher and writer Kevin Carey shows how innovations in digital learning can help higher education.

The Schenectady Museum is undergoing a major change. Plans have been announced for the museum to become The Learning Center. Heading the effort is Neil Golub, the executive chairman of the board of Price Chopper supermarkets, who says there will be two main interactive science programs; the Exploratorium and the Challenger Learning Center. He spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields.