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Interesting view on education from students but a lack of criticality
on January 6, 2009
This text has a lot to offer in terms of the nuances of how kids act and think, and about how they perceive education. What is particularly troubling about this text is an introduction about how the author worked with a group of children to get a colleague fired. I suppose this is okay because she is a journalist and not a teacher? But is this really a good model of writing/documenting - if not of teaching or of educational research? Surely there is some compromise between neglecting student voices and inappropriately colluding with students to fire inexperienced or overwhelmed colleagues. (Are the fires really in the bathroom?)
This rather large issue aside, the text is quite repetitive without offering elaboration. The suggestion to have students revise their work comes up again and again without much suggestion how. Lots of teachers use revision, and there are myriad ways to approach this. This is perhaps why it's a shame the journalist author left teachers out of the equation.
Some of the excerpts from kids are so brief and unclear that it seems to also ghettoize the dialect and casual statements of what seems like a usually articulate group of children. Cushman throws around the cultural capital of New York City public schools without a lot of basis. Out of 18 children interviewed, only five are from New York - and some of these attend "small" and possibly private schools. What this book perhaps more aptly addresses is a journalist's view of suburban teaching in Rhode Island and California, where most of her interviewees are students.
Overall a somewhat disappointing read - educators: please consider a wealth of texts from actual teachers and those within legitimately urban environments like yourselves.