Education: The Case for Permissipline

At the traditional school I came from, you just sat at a desk copying from a book and all that junk. It was a big game to see if you could chew bubble gum all day and sometimes stick it on your nose without the teacher noticing. Here you learn responsibility.

So says Mary Beth Brill, an unabashed eighth-grader in the "new town" of Columbia, Md. Yet the Wilde Lake Middle School (grades 6 through 8), which she now attends, looks at first like a model of irresponsibility. It lacks neat classrooms, desks in rows,...

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