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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Kozol's "Letters" is next on my reading list

Today's Christian Science Monitor has a review of Jonathan Kozol's "Letters to a Young Teacher." The reviewer compares teachers waiting for the newest Kozol book to their students awaiting the latest installment of Harry Potter. He claims that "a battle is beginning for the soul of education." Here's a brief excerpt of the review:

Now he's making his battle cry even more explicit, urging young teachers to take a stand if they, too, see injustice in their students' lives. But his weapons of choice are peaceful ones – the teachers' own creativity and their commitment to nurturing their students' sense of delight.

In one chapter he tells about a teacher who could calm her rowdy classroom by putting her fingers to her mouth as if playing a flute; the children knew the signal and did likewise, dancing with her to an imaginary tune. Then Kozol holds a mirror up to Francesca's own classroom, recalling how excited her students were to track the status of their loose teeth on a chart she had made with categories such as "Wiggly," "Wobbly," and "Out!"

In another chapter he takes on the high-stakes testing environment. He laments the way the language of the business world has crept in, so that school mission statements treat children as products who have to be prepared to take their place in a competitive global marketplace. "Childhood does not exist to serve the national economy," he declares. "In a healthy nation, it should be the other way around."


Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow. Great post.

I'll have to read that one.

Wendy Hoke said...

Hi, Michelle!

My reading list is rapidly expanding. Wish I could find a few more hours each week. :)