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Creating Hope in Today's Students
on November 14, 2002
Book Review- Ria Caldwell
Kohl, H. (1995). I won't learn from you: and other thoughts on creative maladjustment. New Press.
Kohl is now known as the classic speaker on "not learning" or refusing to learn that results in certain students' inappropriate placement into special education programs and classrooms. Kohl begins by describing certain situations and conditions that he finds himself in, requiring him to re-evaluate what it is that our students need. Hope as he refers to as "hopemongering" is the title of one of his chapters where he cites examples of how he has had to instill or rekindle the flame of hope that students so desperately need at times. Kohl provides some examples of how a student who would be viewed as a discipline or behavior problem might in fact be practicing his "not learning" ability or "right to refuse" as I like to call it.
Kohl addresses issues in education surrounding race, culture, economic, and linguistic differences that result in the diversity of each and every classroom in the U.S. He points out that the reasons for the amount of "dropout" teachers is exceeding the amount of "dropout" students and in order for this to change we need to adopt new ways of embracing these children who are often born into poverty. He emphasizes the importance of finding balance in order to achieve maximum effectiveness with our students. He indicates that the true art of teaching comes from being able to lead students to make discoveries that create their own meaning, purpose, learning and under-standing. Not "lecturing" them on the topic of equality but instead, facilitating their own critical thinking and encouraging them to find their own strengths and weaknesses and to explore their environments with a "new set of eyes." He also talks about fear of students, traditionally the fear that "white" teachers have of "black and latino" students, I would like to call this fear "culturephobia" or "colorphobia".
I think every teacher can find a part of themselves in the numerous examples cited in the book and am glad that I was able to read the words of a man who has so much to offer the educational institutions that exist today.