Herbert Kohl is the author of such seminal books as 36 Children and The Open Classroom. Growing Minds is his tenth book concerning the subject of education. Currently, he is working in the field of learning and computer technology.
Growing Mindsby Herbert R. Kohl, Joseph Featherstone
Herbert Kohl, one of America's most influential and provocative educators, believes that the only way to persist and to grow as a teacher is to commit oneself to the development of the child rather than to the regimented training of the pupil. His book is a lively, personal testament of one teacher's efforts to cultivate the natural vitality of the learning process
Herbert Kohl, one of America's most influential and provocative educators, believes that the only way to persist and to grow as a teacher is to commit oneself to the development of the child rather than to the regimented training of the pupil. His book is a lively, personal testament of one teacher's efforts to cultivate the natural vitality of the learning process; it is also a wondefully concrete and practical guide full of stories of individual students and how they were helped to grow through learning.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.43(d)
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Although I think that some of Mr. Kohl's advice is good, the stories he tells about being a teacher ring false. Examples of student work seem overcoached and disingenuous.
Mr. Kohl proposes an almost mystical teaching method which does not involve a set curriculum or lesson plans but instead relies on a teacher allowing student creativity to guide the flow of classroom learning. Mr. Kohl rejects the idea that specific topics should be taught to children in favor of an unstructured learning environment in which elementary school children explore on their own with only occasional guidance from the teacher.
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this idea, it seems that it would require rather idealized conditions to work. Mr. Kohl seems to have achieved these conditions, according to the stories he tells in the book. He gives examples of sixth graders constructing the natural numbers using set notation, complete with curly braces and a capital lambda. He includes entire stories, supposedly written by fourth graders, which include paragraphs like: 'Minnie looked at her mother's slim figure in the doorway, 'Yes, Ma,' she said gloomily'. This story contained the caption 'Will Minnie win Harper?' and included references to parasols and a play on the phrase 'mountains out of molehills'.
Apparently not just a few of his elementary school children were capable of advanced abstract thought. Mr Kohl repeatedly writes 'the students did ...', 'the students wondered ...', 'the students said ...' as if all the students in his class acted as one. None of his students seem to have had problems, and he gives no indication of how he might have helped individual students who might have had trouble with, say, the John von Neumann construction.
I was very disappointed with this book and felt somewhat insulted by it. It was long on advice but did not include believable evidence that Mr. Kohl's methods worked in his classroom. And there is no example of the theories working for any other teacher. I don't recommend that anyone who is looking for practical teaching advice buy this book.