Articles on the Modern Schools

The Goldman House, Art to the Exaggerated and Eccentric (PDF)
by Susan Smith-Peter (April 2019)

Friends of the Modern School Interview
by Alexander Khost (July 2018)
An interview with Leo Goldman and Jon Thoreau Scott, former students of the anarchistic Stelton Modern School.

An Incomplete and Personal History of the Modern Schools
by Alexander Khost (March 2018)
A romantic tale of becoming involved in the hundred year history of an anarchistic colony of self-directed educators and children

Books on the Modern Schools

Recollections from the Modern School Ferrer Colony
By Victor Sacharoff and others

“It would be delightful to believe that the publication of this account of the actual experiences of these Stelton families, these children, so real, so lacking in conspiratorial mythologies, might help lay to rest a few of the demons that continue to dog our culture and effectively prevent us from adopting the radical reforms that would be needed to help transform the nature of American Society. I cannot really indulge in such a wishful fantasy – but oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our schools could take their cue from those halcyon accounts of life as it was lived by those fortunate families and by the lucky children who played those games, created those plays, wrote those stories, painted those pictures, roamed those fields, climbed those trees and learned about nature by dabbling in that stream! Thank you for sharing your lives with the rest of us!” – Mary Leue, founder of the Free School in Albany, NY, writer and publisher

“The school in Stelton made a significant, if not major, contribution to the interpretation and implementation of these educational (freedom in education) concepts. The Modern School was in a way like a pebble thrown into a pond – the ripples from which extend and repeat themselves across the surface of the water long after the pebble has sunk below the surface.” – Susan Spayth Riley, teacher, writer and Modern School pupil in the early 1930s

Recollections from the Modern School Ferrer Colony was self-published by Friends of the Modern School. Please contact us to purchase a copy.

The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States
By Paul Avrich

Based on extensive interviews with former pupils and teachers, this Pulitzer Prize-nominated work is a seminal and important investigation into the potential of educational alternatives. Between 1910 and 1960 anarchists across the United States established more than twenty schools where children might study in an atmosphere of freedom and self-reliance in contrast to the formality and discipline of the traditional classroom. These “Modern Schools” sought to abolish all forms of authority and to usher in a new society based on the voluntary cooperation of free individuals. Their object, during an era of war, social ferment, and government repression, was to create not only a new type of school, but also a new world. Among the participants were Emma Goldman, Margaret Sanger, Alexander Berkman, and artist Man Ray.

The first in a series of new editions bringing the work of Paul Avrich back into print, this book is widely considered (including by the author himself!) to be Avrich’s finest work.

Available for purchase by AK Press.