STUPIDITY AND TEARS: Teaching and Learning Under Pressure

Herbert R. Kohl, Author . New Press $22.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-56584-851-1

National Book Award–winning educator Kohl (36 Children and some 40 other books) offers six essays on "sustaining the joy of teaching while under pressure." How can teachers maintain integrity and creativity when school systems mandate uniform teaching protocols and test-oriented curricula? How do teachers guide the moral development of children after 9/11? How can teachers reconnect alienated students? With 40 years of experience working with the nation's "least-served children," Kohl isn't afraid to speak plainly about the "willful stupidity" of our education system and currently proposed reforms. He says mandating a uniform curriculum won't improve education, since "a terrible teacher will be terrible" with any curriculum and such micromanaging just pushes creative teachers into private schools. Literacy "will not come through testing and an obsession with standards, but through patient, intelligent, and sensitive speaking, reading, and listening." Thus teachers need to be aware of how they are being heard, in much the same way that politicians, lovers and actors are always monitoring how their message is being received. Instead of a simplistic, monocultural model of moral development, Kohl stresses the need to examine a wider range of transformational experiences (social violence, deprivation, altruism, etc.) to understand their impact on children of diverse backgrounds. Brief in words but long on courage, Kohl's latest will be required reading for progressive-minded teaching professionals and recommended to everyone else concerned about the hearts and minds of our next generation of citizens. (Jan. 29)

Reviewed on: 11/10/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
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