Education: Notes from a Controversialist

"A reactionary—that is, a conservative who is not cute," is Donald Barr's own description of himself. To some of the militantly progressive parents of Manhattan's prestigious Dalton School, the very word reactionary is anathema, and some of the methods Barr has imposed on the generally permissive Dalton system in his seven years as headmaster have aroused fierce controversy. Just three months ago, dissident parents mounted a major effort to oust him, and were only narrowly defeated.

Judging from the contents of his new book, Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? Dilemmas in American Education Today, Headmaster Barr relishes such controversy. His collection of short...

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