Larry Paros

Innovator, Educator, Writer

Praise & Reviews

A marvellous and stirring book about a veteran teacher's lovely gift for rising up and overcoming obstacles, refusing to be beaten down... How he transcended the autocratic ethos and the juggernaut of punitive instruction that's been foisted on us in the name of education. Teachers and parents — indeed, all of us who care about our children, and sometimes feel defeated by the meanness and the hard-nosed opposition that we face — will find in this irreverent book the energy to charge our batteries again. Thank you, Larry Paros!
– Jonathan Kozol
Author of Savage Inequalities and the Shame of the Nation

Larry Paros breathes the air of opposition rather than accommodation; he finds the romance, the interest, and the challenge of life in dissent against the status quo at a time when the power of injustice is so unfairly weighted against the marginalized and the down-trodden.
– Bill Ayers
Professor of Education, University of Illinois, Ret.

Larry's story needs to be read and reread for us to grasp the nature of the schools we need — schools where trust is earned and where everything, including the classics can be used to open up a deeper understanding of racism, sexism and classism. As he reminds us, such settings are also places of joy, forging powerful relationships across the ages — leading to long-term networks of value throughout our lives.
– Deborah Meir
Founder, Small Schools Movement

A magnificently written book that lays bare the sacrifices, anguish, pain and obscene inequalities one must face and overcome to not just teach but to re-imagine, redefine and demonstrate what's possible in America's urban schools. To create great schools, Larry Paros would not compromise, nor excuse, nor accept anything less for his students than the absolute best that he could imagine. In so doing, he won the respect of his opponents, the admiration of his peers, and the love of his students.
– Dr. Charles F. Desmond, CEO Inversant
Senior Fellow: New England Board of Higher Education
Past chair, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education

Just as the author attempted to transform education to meet the societal problems of previous decades, his experiences now stand as a guide to the visionaries who must again renew American schools to contend with the challenges of the modern age.
– Kirkus Reviews

Additional Reviews

Larry shows that "... there is no separating how we educate our children from efforts to reformulate the larger society" and how he himself has given a lifetime of wisdom and dedication to the fight to make our society and our education system both democratic and just
– Former U. S. Senator Fred Harris
Author of The New Populism and co-editor of Healing Our Society

Larry Paros' new book evokes and reconstructs an era of ferment and change in American education. It is not just about creating free schools or public alternatives, but a variety of ventures, various unique combination of innovative educational approaches- concepts and experiences that are vitally important for us to understand as we make our way into the entrepreneurial 21st century.
– Jerry Mintz, Founder, Director
the Alternative Education Resource Organization

Dancing on the Contradictions offers insight and strategy for the creation of alternative educational settings and the struggles entailed... Tells the story, as well, of a life well lived; how one man touched many lives, vividly presented in this engaging book.
– Mike Rose, Research Professor of Social Research Methodology, UCLA
Author of Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education

Finally! Here's a book for those who want to make our schools more humane and responsive. Listen to the students and actually see them (great pictures) in conversation with a man who has been their advocate for 50 years. I was both informed and inspired as I rode the rugged trail between their need for freedom, self-expression, and autonomy, and our hope for order and authority. With vision born from years of experience, Paros shows us how we can take on and challenge an outdated educational system and emerge with our souls (and our children) intact.
– Joel Isaacs, PhD
Independent Mental Health Professional and Trainer

Larry Paros' book presents example after example of how educators and young people can — in turbulent times — together create educational settings that are profoundly honest, humane, and empowering. This book brings you inside the choices, ironies, relationships, and the process of one's own growth that are the essential work of an educational visionary. It shows what CAN be done and — once again, in this era of profound social and educational turmoil — NEEDS to be done.
– Barney Brawer, Former School Principal, President
The National Classroom, Inc.

This provocative book, though it describes events that took place decades ago, brings to life key issues teachers continue to grapple with every day in our nation's schools. The book shows clearly how the difficult and complex issues of race, class, and human difference can be addressed humanely and productively on college campuses and in the public schools. Larry Paros' work connecting academic rigor, social consciousness, and personal growth serves as a model of the kind of education young teachers seek, but rarely find. There is much to be learned from this thought-provoking book.
– Katherine C. Boles, Director, Learning and Teaching
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Larry is a profound social change agent and provocateur, fighting against discrimination and injustice in the quest for true educational and societal transformation. He is a warrior armed and willing to confront, unwilling to settle for or accept the status quo in education and beyond. The book captures his efforts beautifully-more than fifty years' worth of events, recollections, relationships, aspirations, triumphs, and letdowns, recounted in a way that pulls readers in. The astounding level of detail gives a sense of closeness to the feelings and events, as if it were yesterday. The photos of the students and their own words as well add up to make for a truly compelling read.
– Ken Libertoff, PhD
Former Director, Vermont Association for Mental Health

A test run in the democratization of education and social change and a source of inspiration and a manual for transforming education in our country.
– Alfonso Lopez-Vasquez
President ALVA Equity and Diversity
Former Director of Diversity, Pacific University

Many have lost hope at a time of enduring educational inequality and racism, passing for achievement. Dancing on the Contradictions demonstrates, however, that viable transformative educational models are within our reach. It is now up to us to muster the courage and determination to act.
– Irma McClaurin, PhD
YSHS '68 Alumna, activist anthropologist, administrator, consultant
Poetess, Anthropologist, and past President of Shaw University

Instead of running from chaos, Paros and his peers embraced it. Instead of resting on "success," school became a laboratory, a place to try to answer the unanswerable. A place to, perhaps, work on a cure. It's an inspirational vision of what school ought to be. And without overstating it, it may be a vision that ultimately saves us; only, however, if we recognize the urgency for change right now.
– Will Richardson,
"Schools in a time of Chaos," 2016