Monsters in the Classroom: Noam Chomsky, Human Nature, and Education

by Philip G. Hill

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In this lucid, original, and comprehensive work, the articulated approaches to pedagogy are based on specific conceptions of human nature. Drawing on a vast range of Chomsky’s prodigious output in linguistics, politics, biology, cognitive science, and education, Hill highlights two fundamental elements of Chomsky’s understanding of human nature and uses these elements as the foundation of a highly creative approach to pedagogy. The originality of the work is apparent in the way the author identifies how key ideas in Chomsky’s linguistics and political discourse are rooted in a liberatory approach to education. The value of the work lies in its practical nature. Even though it makes reference to ideas in various academic disciplines, the work’s overall value is reflected in the way ideas relate to Hill’s personal teaching experiences and how they apply in a concrete classroom setting. The reader is offered a practical and highly creative way to apply Chomsky’s understanding of human nature in a classroom setting.

List of Acronyms

Chapter 1 A Biographical Sketch

Chapter 2 Language and Human Nature
Human Nature: Common Traits
What is Universal Grammar?
The Innateness of Universal Grammar
Phrase Structure Analysis
Human Creativity
Language Acquisition and Creativity

Chapter 3 Two Possible Bones of Contention
A Leap or a Stumble?
Chomsky on the Evolution of Language
Speculations Abound
Human Traits Revisited

Chapter 4 Politics and Human Nature
Libertarian Socialism
Critique of American Foreign Policy
Manufacturing Consent
Responsibility of Intellectuals
Intellectual Self-Defence

Chapter 5 Libertarian Education
Libertarian Education or Anarchist Education?
Chomsky and Libertarian Education
Concord Academy
Yasnaya Polyana
The Laboratory School
The Modern School
Beacon Hill School
Additional Libertarian Schools: Past and Present
A Brief Note on Chomsky and Critical Pedagogy

Chapter 6 A Chomskyan Approach to Pedagogy
Qualities of an Effective Teacher
Traditional and Modern Approaches to Education
Four Moments of a Pedagogy
Practical Limitations
Application of a Chomskyan Approach to Pedagogy

Chapter 7 A Conversation with Noam Chomsky


Philip Hill earned his Ed.D. in effective pedagogy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. For 30 years, he taught at a high school in the Greater Toronto Area. In addition, he worked at a high school in Toluca, Mexico, where he was involved in various non-formal, community-based educational settings in rural Mexico. Hill conducted research in the Maquiladora region of the U.S.-Mexico border and participated in an annual international conference of educators from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Monsters in the Classroom: Noam Chomsky, Human Nature, and Education





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

January 2024