Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture

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More About This Textbook


How do we recognize the "wounds" caused by outdated schooling policies? How do we heal them? In her provocative new book, education writer and critic Kirsten Olson brings to light the devastating consequences of an educational approach that values conformity over creativity, flattens students' interests, and dampens down differences among learners. Drawing on deeply emotional stories, Olson shows that current institutional structures do not produce the kinds of minds and thinking that society really needs. Instead, the system tends to shame, disable, and bore many learners. Most importantly, she presents the experiences of wounded learners who have healed and shows what teachers, parents, and students can do right now to help themselves stay healthy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807749562
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press
  • Publication date: 4/23/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot xi

Foreword Parker J. Palmer xv

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction 1

Big Changes in the Educational Landscape 1

My Own Children Start School 2

Going Deeper 3

So Who Is This Book For? 7

Part I Broken

1 What Are School Wounds? 11

"I Felt Sick in School" 11

"I Take It Offensive" 15

"I'm in the Middle" 17

The Wounded Parent: "I Feel Helpless About Saving My Son" 19

The Wounded Adult: "School Is Not a Distant Mirror" 22

These Stories Are Emblematic 24

But Aren't Schools Better Than They Were Before? 26

2 Kinds of Wounds 30

Learning as Pleasure 30

"Completely Filled with the Joy of Learning" 32

"But Please Don't Tell People It Should Be Easy" 34

Wounds of Creativity 36

Wounds of Compliance 39

Wounds of Rebelliousness 42

Wounds That Numb 44

Wounds of Underestimation 45

Wounds of Perfectionism 50

Wounds of the Average 53

Commonalities 55

3 Why Do Schools Lacerate? 58

Outmoded Institutions: The Legacy of Rip Van Winkle 58

Old-Fashioned Ideas About Knowledge 60

New Skills and Attributes Demanded 63

Outmoded Ideas of Human Ability 64

From Teaching to Learning: We Aren't Good Diagnosticians 66

Schools Are Deliberately Designed to Sort and Track 68

Inculcating the "Hidden Curriculum" 70

New Ideas About Schools 72

Part II Healing

4 How Do People Heal? 79

"I Needed a String of Successes" 79

School Wounds Are Often Invisible 84

Cultural Denial 85

"My Creativity Is a Large Part of My Intelligence" 89

"I Felt I Was Bad, Almost Morally Defective" 93

"You See What They Think About You When You Act a Fool" 95

A Break in the Clouds 99

5 Stages of Healing 101

ProfoundGifts Nearly Lost 101

The Blame Trap 103

Commonalities of the Healing Process 105

Exercises to Foster Healing 112

6 Wounded Schools 114

Schools Are Wounded 114

Learning to Change/Changing to Learn 117

Teaching Is a Complex Technical Job 119

A Teacher Prepares 121

New Research on Brains 124

Implications for Productive Learning Environments 127

Vital Variety of Learners 128

Schools of the Future: From Teaching to Learning 131

7 Parents Who Heal 133

School Is Difficult Terrain: It Was "Educational Malpractice" 133

Parents' Own Ghosts 137

No Bake Sale: Schools Are Designed to Keep Parents Out 138

Parental Involvement Influenced by Class and Culture 140

Effort Versus Ability: "Look Smart, Don't Look Dumb" 142

Demystifying Learning 146

Unmasking the Myths of Schooling 149

Supporting Critical Inquiry 150

"Drawing a Fuller Portrait": Advocating for and Supporting Your Child 153

Reframing Positively 155

"It's Just School" 157

8 Teachers Who Heal 162

"A Teacher Accepts Children as They Are, Not as He or She Would Like Them to Be": Two Recollections 162

The New Professional 166

9 Students Healing One Another 183

A Nonconformist's Educational Journey 184

Critical Inquiry About School: Starting a Consciousness-Raising Group 187

Becoming Metacognitive About Learning 191

Students Becoming Active to Change Schools 194

Opting Out of the System: Homeschooling 198

Changes in Thinking About the Nature of Education 201

Notes 204

Index 214

About the Author 222

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