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36 Children

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A former teacher recalls his two years in a Harlem school. A new Introduction and a wide selection of stories, poetry, and drawings by the children are included.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 1st 1988 by Plume (first published December 1st 1968)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  263 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Both of my parents went back to school to get their masters in education a few years ago. Besides having to help them with their term papers, they shared some of the books that they had to read for their classes with me. This was one of them. Its a book about a Harvard/Columbia educated middle school teacher in the mid 1960s. After asking too many questions at his previous school, Herbert Kohl is punished by being reassigned to a school in Harlem. He encounters a very diverse and unruly classroo ...more
Marianne Ulloa
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: educators and reformers.
Shelves: faves
36 Children is an account of a teacher in an inner-city HS in the 60's (NYC?), his classroom, and his attempts to reform. This book was not comlex, and the language was not always the best, however, it was moving in its message that there needs to be change, and it begins with one classroom at a time. I read this when I first started teaching in NYC, and it absolutely terrified me how a system is still structured to not allow for the success of young people, and although there are attempts to re ...more
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the only story of a teacher who makes a difference that is at all believable. Kohl took real chances and never quit work to go do a lecture tour. he remained a teacher his whole life. He allowed students to make decisions about their own learning and always put his students first, before other teachers, administrators, and even his own career. Kohl is pissed. Definate recommendation to anyone who thinks you can't work within the system. (Although Kohl himself insists that you can't, but ...more
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: teaching
Good, with good ideas, but probably would recommend other books about teaching before this one. Was probably more relevant in the 60s and 70s - though I'm sure the racial tension still exists and manifests today. Loved the children's stories. ...more
Mark Feltskog
Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
For me, this was the right book at the right time.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very good read for educators and who ever works with children. Never give up!
Nov 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read for educators.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A study of the education system in the USA (and the school system in general), and how it fails poor people, written in the 1960s. Fascinating observation on how unstructured, artistic and philosophically-driven learning can benefit children. Made stronger by the inclusion of stories and work by the children that Kohl taught (including the chillingly brilliant short story 'The Condemned Building' by Alvin). As a teacher Kohl seems to care about his students. Occasionally dated in language; some ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic -- Kohl's story of transformation in a Harlem classroom. At first it is an inspiring story, but he ends up more cynical and despairing as he sees that how one good year with them was not enough, and he continues the story with follow-ups of many of the children and the struggles they go through over the next few years. ...more
Autobiographical account of the author's first year teaching 6th grade in a Harlem school. He shares struggles, ideas, insights, events, and examples of his student's work. A real challenge to our educational system. (I read the 1967 edition of this book.) ...more
Brenda Yasir
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good read!
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
No less relevant many of Kohl’s insights & experiences can and should be applied to education today.
Jordyn Prestwich
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating and educational. I loved it.
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is two years in the teaching life of a young impressionable Jewish kid from the Bronx teaching sixth grade in Harlem. He leaves after two years, not because he’s not making a difference, but because one year isn’t enough to help these children. And he taught them in 1963-65. The book came out in ’67. [I thought he got fired for teaching Langston Hughes, that was Kozol, but the truth is no one *cared* what he did or didn’t do with his students.:] ”…Now I am convinced that that system, which ...more
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, education
I thought this was quite insightful. Its about a teacher in the 60s ish who gets to teach a 6th grade class of black kids in Harlem New York. The relationship between him and the kids is tough to start up with but then he develops an incredible relationship with them that goes beyond the curriculum they are set. He started teaching them the most amazing and wide array of subjects and through his teaching brings them to life. A must read for any teacher I feel and very rewarding if you are a pare ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a great, if not somewhat depressing, book. It was depressing in part because it deals with the American public school system, always under appreciated and underfunded. It's also an upsetting look at how little the educational system has changed since the mid-60s when this was written. It was also inspiring and rejuvenating as an educator. ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book before I had ever entered public school. even as a student in a public school system, there was little connection, it seemed to me, between my own life and those of the children described in this book. Now, caught as we are in the ever constricting noose of standardized testing as our sole means of evaluation, it seems more relevant than ever.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I absolutely hated this book! It made no sense at all. The author just babbles about nothing and just randomly talks about whatever is on his mind. I wouldn't recommend this book to my worst enemy! ...more
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Hmm. I wanted more from this book. I didn't realize such a large part of this was the children's writing. This may sound quite shallow, but I kept comparing it to movies about teaching inner city kids. that's probably not fair, but there you go. ...more
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an amazing book!
May 22, 2010 added it
Shelves: 2010
"Freedom is only real when people are able to care about more than their own needs." ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I hate the man.
Nov 29, 2013 added it
Laurie Kutil
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Quite a great story of a teacher trying to help kids in Harlem reach full potential. He also shared some of the stories they wrote too. Hard to put down.
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Educator best known for his advocacy of progressive alternative education and as the author of more than thirty books on education. He founded the 1960s Open School movement and is credited with coining the term "open classroom." ...more

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