How an open school made it and made it and . . .

This is a book review. (''Annehurst: The Natural History of a Good School,'' by Donald P. Sanders and Marian Schwab. West Lafayette, Idaho 47906: Kappa Delta Pi. $4)

I asked a principal friend to look at this 88-page paperback and tell me whether it was worth my while reading. She had just completed yet another year of running a family-style (or open) public primary school. I'd used her good services before, and it had worked well. Her reaction: ''Cynthia, don't bother.''

Then she returned ''Annehurst'' having already torn out the order blank in the back of the booklet.

I was not only told - as only an elementary school principal can tell you - to read the book, but to give it a ''favorable review.''

I did the first and am now doing the second.

It is not easy to change the style of schooling from authoritarian to familial; and some think it's even harder to explain how it's done when it is. Annehurst, the school, is now more than 10 years old, so we're not dealing with ''instant success on the crest of the wave'' prose.

Instead, ''Annehurst,'' the book, is full of the anguish of trying change, of going forward four paces and back five; of teachers and a principal losing heart first with each other and second with the purpose.

But finally, it is the story of something very, very good that happened; and further, told with such honesty and clarity that even the most hardhearted skeptic will have to pause, and wonder whether the ''Annehurst'' way isn't, in fact, the better way.

At the risk of sounding like an elementary school principal: You read this book soonest, or bring an excuse from home tomorrow!

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