Sunday, August 09, 2009
Review: Wounded by School
About the Book (From Amazon): While reformers and policymakers focus on achievement gaps, testing, and accountability, millions of students mentally and emotionally disengage from learning and many gifted teachers leave the field. Ironically, today's schooling is damaging the single most essential component to education -- the joy of learning.
How do we recognize the ''wounds'' caused by outdated schooling policies? How do we heal them? In her controversial new book, education writer and critic Kirsten Olson brings to light the devastating consequences of an educational approach that values conformity over creativity, flattens student's interests, and dampens down differences among learners. Drawing on deeply emotional stories, Olson shows that current institutional structures do not produce the kinds of minds and thinking that society really needs. Instead, the system tends to shame, disable, and bore many learners. Most importantly, she presents the experiences of wounded learners who have healed and shows what teachers, parents, and students can do right now to help themselves stay healthy.
My Comments: If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I have a son who has had a rough time of it in school the last few years. He is on the autism spectrum and advocating for him and trying to make sure he gets the best education possible has benn something into which I've devoted a lot of time. Also, I was an education major in college and spent two years as a teacher. I know something about the system from the viewpoint of the student, the teacher and the parent.
I started this book several times but just could not become engaged with it. I finally started skipping and skimming, trying to find something that would grab me. Basically the thesis of the book is that schools are broken and because of that, end up wounding and breaking children. Unfortunately, for all her criticism, she doesn't have any real suggestions for systemic change. She describes some good teachers, or teachers who were at least good for some students, but doesn't talk about systemic changes other than in generalities, since as saying that students should be taught to learn, allowed to explore their own interests and other such good sounding stuff.
I'd like to thank FSB for the review copy of this book.