In this book, Thomas Albritton explores images of teaching and learning in several giants in the canon of British children’s literature. Identifying traces of Plato, Rousseau, Dewey, and Vygotsky; portrayals of growth mindset and high stakes testing; and evidence of the pedagogical power of inquiry, teacher personality, and project-based learning, Albritton’s analysis results in both a richer appreciation for the literature and a deeper understanding of the educational theory.
Thomas Albritton is associate professor of English education at High Point University.
Foreword by the Series Editors
Chapter 1: Learning Down the Rabbit Hole: Lewis Carroll’s Alice Novels as Case Studies of Human Development
Chapter 2: Beatrix Potter as a Champion of Progressive Education
Chapter 3: The Neverland Academy: Formal Schooling vs. Natural Learning in Peter Pan
Chapter 4: The Wind in the Willows and Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”
Chapter 5: A Bear of Very Little Brain: Winnie-the-Pooh and Growth Mindset
Chapter 6: Always Winter, But Never Christmas: Narnia and High Stakes Testing
Chapter 7: How Bilbo Learns: Environmental Inquiry and Reflective Practice in The Hobbit
Chapter 8: How Hogwarts Teaches: Identity, Personality, and Instruction
Epilogue: Lessons in Literature: What Readers See Through the Lens of Education
About the Author
Thomas Albritton’s work would enthrall any educator, developmental psychologist, philosopher, or lover of children’s literature with its astute and witty analysis of British children’s classics through the lens of education. I had never thought of these classics as commentaries on approaches to education, but as Albritton demonstrates, of course they are. He helps readers to understand their favorite characters from childhood as representations of the teachers, classmates, and parents they’ve encountered throughout their lives and places these representations adeptly in the context of modern education and school reform.
It is rare to find an academic text so accessible that explores something so complex and seemingly inaccessible as literary and educational theories. Albritton has a way of presenting engaging, thought-provoking ideas with popular culture examples to examine and explain some of the more complicated ideas within education and literary analysis. Not only is this book instructional, well-researched and beautifully written, it is a joy to read. I found myself inspired and informed—a unique and thrilling combination for any scholar.
Albritton takes the reader on a nostalgic journey through the classics of childhood, brilliantly illuminating these familiar stories with fresh light and revealing the wide range of educational theory hiding just below their surfaces. From Alice’s Wonderland journey of self-discovery and personal growth through the progressive and experiential educations reflected in Beatrix Potter’s stories and Wendy’s foray into Neverland, to the manifold instructional methods at Hogwarts, Albritton expertly weaves the twin strands of educational theory and classic children’s literature into a seamless narrative that is enlightening to scholars of both fields.