“In the 19th century, society was so miserably poor, owing to the systematised robbery on which it was founded, that real education was impossible for anybody.”

The polymath and Arts & Crafts designer William Morris wrote these words in his now little-read 1890 utopian novel, News from Nowhere, in which he explicitly links the problems of capitalism with the deficiencies of the education system, which he saw as stifling and damaging for children. His proposed alternative? Forest school.

In his imagined future, children “come to play in the woods for weeks together ...


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