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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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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
Feb 16, 2008 Marianne Belotseyenko rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: educators and reformers.
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
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
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 Nicholas 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.
May 22, 2017 Volkert rated it it was amazing
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.)
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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