The principles Miller identifies are:
- Respect for every person, including children (human rights)
- Balance (openness rather than fixed ideology)
- Decentralization of authority (human scale democracy)
- Non-interference between political, cultural, and economic spheres of society
- A holistic or integrative perspective
I'm particularly pleased to see the way he foregrounds the issue of human rights and children's rights. "Rather than treating individuals as a means to some culturally determined end (such as national pride or global economic dominance)," he writes, "this perspective insists that every human being is an end in oneself" (48). Decentralization of authority and the principle of noninterference follow from this first principle: in order to ensure that the needs of individuals are not subsumed by the interests of the state or the interests of corporations, education must be dis-entangled from government and for-profit enterprise.
This is not to say Miller believes that the government should not play any role in ensuring that all individuals have access to educational opportunities. Only that he does not believe the government should dictate what should be in the curriculum and how it should be taught. I am not particularly persuaded by his vision of voluntary community-run charities to fund educational programs. But I see in it the seeds of a new way of thinking about funding education: A future system that operated more like the National Endowment for the Humanities, perhaps, than like No Child Left Behind.
This is definitely a book written for movement "insiders" -- folks who already have at least some working knowledge of pedagogical theories and practices, the major thinkers in counter-cultural education, and the recent history of educational alternatives. If you weren't familiar with the work of people like John Holt or know at least a thumbnail version of the history of Montessori education the book might feel pretty shallow and cursory to you. Even I would have appreciated a bit more fleshing out of Miller's vision of what a human-right-centered education would look like. Other historian-activists such as Joel Spring (Wheels in the Head) and Clive Harber (Schooling as Violence) have written a much greater length about possible models for an alterntiave to the national-military-industrial model we're currently stuck with and flailing to sustain.
You can read selections of Miller's work -- including some of the essays that make up this book -- online at Paths of Learning.