Herbert R. Kohl is an educator best known for his advocacy of progressive alternative education and as the author of more than thirty books on education. He founded the 1960s Open School movement and is credited with coining the term, "open classroom."
Herbert Kohl attended the Bronx High School of Science and studied philosophy and mathematics at Harvard from 1954 to 1958. At Harvard he was president of the Signet Society and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, graduating with an AB degree in 1958. During the 1958â€“59 academic year he attended University College, Oxford on a Henry Fellowship, and in 1959â€“60 studied philosophy at Columbia University with a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.
Deciding against an academic career, Kohl matriculated at Teachers College, Columbia in 1961, and in 1962 received an MA in teaching, while qualifying for a permanent kindergarten through eighth grade teaching certificate in the New York City public schools. In 1962 he became a sixth grade teacher in the New York City public schools, something he had dreamed of doing since childhood.
Kohl has been teaching and writing for over forty-five years. During that time he has taught every grade from kindergarten through graduate school, not in that order. His career as a teacher began in 1962 in Harlem, where he continued to work for six years. From September 1964 to June 1967, under a grant from the National Institute of Education, he ran a storefront school for junior high and high school students, taught high school psychology and writing, and worked as curriculum coordinator for the Parent Board of the I.S. 201 Community School District. In 1966 he became the founding director of the Teachers and Writers Collaborative, a project intended to transform the teaching of writing in the schools. He is still a Board member of the Collaborative.