36 Children came as a Twitter Book Club recommendation from @pammoran.
I enjoyed this book but it really did not make for a very Tweetable entry in the club. The formatting is odd, most of the really important and profound content was situational and relied on a greater context than could easily be conveyed in 140 characters (or even the +140 characters I use with TwitLonger). The book is really a story of how a young teacher working in an inner city school in Harlem came to know his students, their lives, and the struggles they were up against. It reads like a journal moving in and out between telling the story, publishing examples of student work, and interjecting social commentary about the situation. I found myself often in this book recognizing much of the same issues as parallel to the work I did when I taught alternative ed.
"Then I locked the record cards in the closet. The children would tell me who they were. Each child, each new schoo... http://tl.gd/92mrrk
I've always taken this approach to teaching. I have been burned for it a few times though by special education directors and administrators who insist that by law I need to be made aware of what each child can and cannot do. I struggle with this because it puts me between a rock and a hard place. Often, if not usually, a child's learning disability is situational and the effect of their environment. More often than not, you give the child a different learning environment and their learning disability no longer is important. Of course there are cases where this isn't so but for most of what schools over the past fifteen years have been tracking kids into (ADHD, EBD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, etc.) these are largely non-issues given an environment that inherently addresses their needs. I listened to a panel discussion a couple of weeks ago of parents of Minnesota online students who attested to this. One parent said that as soon as she had her son home, on a flexible schedule, and away from the distractions of the traditional brick and mortar complete with peer pressure and bullying, disrupting bells, and large group instructional pacing that their kid didn't seem disabled at all. In fact, given the right conditions, an otherwise disabled student may be, instead, gifted. It has always been my own personal teaching policy not to look at a students records or listen to other teachers tell me what they think of them unless a problem arises. I am curious, is this good teaching or malpractice?
"It is amazing how 'emotional' problems can disappear, how the dullest child can be transformed into the keenest an... http://tl.gd/92msla
"There were two full sets of sixth-grade readers available, however, and after the arithmetic situation I was grate... http://tl.gd/92n533
"No hypocrite can win the respect of children, and without respect one cannot teach." Kohl
"I felt, along with the official dogma, that no moment in school should be wasted—it must all be pre-planned and st... http://tl.gd/92n7p2
I have to repeat this one:
"I felt, along with the official dogma, that no moment in school should be wasted—it must all be pre-planned and structured. Yet why shouldn't it be 'wasted'? Hadn't most of the class wasted years in school, not merely moments?" Kohl
"Without learning to observe children and thereby knowing something of the people one is living with five hours a d... http://tl.gd/92nb48
Kohl sounds a lot like John Holt.
"Consistency can sometimes prevent discovery and honesty." Kohl
"The teacher has to live with his own mistakes, as his pupils have to suffer them. Therefore, the teacher must lear... http://tl.gd/92neda
Lets repeat that one too. I think it is critical:
"The teacher has to live with his own mistakes, as his pupils have to suffer them. Therefore, the teacher must learn to perceive them as mistakes and find direct or indirect ways to acknowledge his awareness of them and of his fallibility to his pupils." KohlPerhaps this is one reason for high teacher turnover rates in some places.
"It is only in the world of Dick and Jane, Tom and Sally, that the always right and righteous people exist." Kohl
"It is not insignificant that it is teachers and not students who select school readers, nor that, according to a f... http://tl.gd/93m7pr
"the teacher must be honest to the children about his mistakes and weaknesses; he must be able to say that he is wr... http://tl.gd/93m960
"there were any number of self-protective labels I found myself using to stigmatize a child who couldn't conform in my class." Kohl
"To help the teacher maintain order the child is removed, yet it doesn't help. In a classroom and school governed b... http://tl.gd/93mham
Lets repeat that one too:
"To help the teacher maintain order the child is removed, yet it doesn't help. In a classroom and school governed by fear, the removal of one disorderly child merely creates another." KohlI wonder if the same is true of employees, teachers, etc.
"Children will disagree with each other and with the teacher; they will be irrational at times, and the teacher wil... http://tl.gd/93ml58
YES! YES! YES!
"Children will disagree with each other and with the teacher; they will be irrational at times, and the teacher will be, too. An atmosphere must exist in the classroom where conflict, disagreement, and irrationality are accepted temporary occurrences." Kohl
@anderscj what book are the quotes from? Sounds pertinent to my setting.
@greenthumbelina Herbert Kohl's 36 Children
"If someone reads a book so intensely that the book is bruised it is flattering to the book." Kohl
"I listened, hurt, bruised by the harshness of the children's world...I could do nothing about the facts, therefore... http://tl.gd/94726v
"How could the children get some saving perspective on the mad chaotic world they existed in, some sense of the uni... http://tl.gd/9477u4
"History for years has been arbitrarily limited in schools in the United States to European and post-Columbian Amer... http://tl.gd/947cdl
"The one-lesson-ahead morality is what makes so many elementary school classes dull and uninspiring." Kohl
"How can the children be expected to be alert, curious, and excited when the teacher is so often bored?" Kohl
"The need for elementary teachers who are serious-thinking adults, who explore and learn while they teach, who know... http://tl.gd/947gu4
"I wanted them to be able to persist, revolt, and change things in our society and yet not lose their souls in the process." Kohl
I love that line. "Persist, revolt, and change things," in other words, become critical thinkers. Someone que Ellen Langer.
"They had to see that one man's 'barbarian' was another's 'civilized' ideal, one nation's hero another's villain. T... http://tl.gd/947n8f
"That was our biggest problem: we didn't know each other's lives." Kohl
I entered into this issue six years ago when my students convinced me to create a Myspace page for our classroom. Students "friended" me (or at least my class page) and we used the platform to share stories, share art, share accomplishments, ask questions, carry on conversations, etc. This was before Facebook was available outside of .edu email domains and before there was any stigma attached to social networking. These quotes from Kohl lend support to engaging with students using social media. They also challenge the perspective that teachers ought to keep their personal and professioanl lives separate.
When discussing this issue with vetran teachers, especially vetran rural teachers I often hear stories of what it was like when most teachers lived in the same communities as their students. When teachers couldn't sit in their back yard and sip a glass of wine or have a beer without at least one student in neighborhood seeing them. Somehow in the latter part of the twentieth century this became viewed as inappropriate and that the personal lives of teachers had no place in the experience of their students. Something important was lost when this happened. I think social media could help to bring it back. I know many of my former and current students follow me on Twitter and often they resond to things I Tweet. To the extent that I open up my personal life in that public space I feel the lines between the two worlds bluring.
"The children probed for my interests and my commitments. They wanted to know what I cared about as much as I wante... http://tl.gd/94nifb
"any successful classroom has to be based upon a dialogue between students and teachers, both teaching and being ta... http://tl.gd/94njnp
"I explained that the people she saw were training to become teachers. She smiled and nodded. That explained the ho... http://tl.gd/94nvmi
"I didn't insist that everyone always work, realizing by then that I had no right as a teacher and a person to dema... http://tl.gd/957aus
"I told them what middle-class teachers usually tell their pupils, what I heard myself while in public school in Ne... http://tl.gd/957mv1
Another important quote, and one I don't really feel the need to expand upon:
"I told them what middle-class teachers usually tell their pupils, what I heard myself while in public school in New York City, and what teachers in Harlem are usually too honest and scrupulous to tell their pupils. I said if you listen I will teach you how to take tests and how to get around them." Kohl
"The children agreed to be dull for the sake of their future." Kohl
"That is one of the problems of speaking freely and honestly—the truth can become a dangerous burden." Kohl
"the scorn and lack of respect adults feel toward the children and their work hurt and confused me." Kohl
"At most I could be there for the children, a constant figure to listen and repeat that people are not lost because... http://tl.gd/95ocvu
@pammoran just finished Kohl's 36 Children. Disappointed to see he only taught 3 yrs. Could he be a poster child for TFA?
@anderscj wow, only 3 yrs is hard to fathom considering Kohls knowledge base.. otoh immersion and osmosis work wonders
@anderscj wikipedia says 6 iin Harlem b/f publishing & going into HE...he was a career educator tho.... not in the clssrm - but a good ?
@anderscj wonder what average tching exp is of principals- remember resrch in the 80s male/fmale admins had very diff averages -
@anderscj my ? is -does an educator regardless of ed role continue 2 grow/learn- define self as tcher or "leave" tching prof when promoted?
@pammoran I think that is a ? each has to answer for themselves. I know many admin who just become managers.
@pammoran I wonder which is correct, his dates in 36 Children or the Wikipedia article.