WOUNDED BY SCHOOL
About The Book
This controversial book says that the way we educate millions of American children alienates students from a fundamental pleasure in learning, and that pleasure in learning is essential to real engagement, creativity, intellectual entrepreneurship, and a well-lived life.
Based on almost a decade of intensive autobiographical interviews with over 100 "ordinary" students, teachers, and parents, Wounded By School describes some of the dilemmas of those in school now. Students talk about intensive boredom and daily disengagement, while knowing that school "matters" more than ever. Students and teachers describe a grinding lack of meaning in their work, combined with intensive labeling, tracking and shrink-wrapping of learners based on cursory tests and poor understanding of many kinds of minds.
Wounded By School identifies seven kinds of common school wounds, and tells the stories of those who have experienced them...
These stories show that while reformers and policymakers tinker with accountability plans and annual yearly progress measures, millions of learners are intellectually and spiritually checking out--and gifted teachers depart the field by thousands--due to inhospitable conditions for learning and teaching.
In addition to exploring seven types of common school wounds, Wounded By School also portrays a few individuals who have healed their learning lives and reclaimed their intellectual territory and self-possession. These stories of healing show that those who have been lacerated must be much more vocal and active in pressuring our educational system for change.
Fundamentally hopeful, Wounded By School finds much energy for reform, and an alignment with the larger business community that says American schools are not producing the kinds of attributes most needed in young adults and future employees.
An old-fashioned, outmoded institution, the American schoolhouse and concepts of learning and teaching were designed for an earlier time. These ideas no longer serve us well. This is a critical moment for individuals to band together to create change and reclaim our learning lives.
A Learner's Bill of Rights
Every learner has the right to know why they are learning something, why it is important now, or may be important to them someday.
-From Wounded By School
What Are School Wounds?
Healing Through Activism
What People Are Saying About...
"Olson's book places responsibility for common school wounds and other humiliations and blows to self-esteem on the nature of school in our society and brilliantly analyzes the way in which these wounds affect and damage teachers and parents as well as students. She provides dozens of specific examples of the wounding. This litany of sorrows, however is jut a small part of her book, which is as much about healing wounds as about experiencing them. This is what makes the book valuable. Olson's suggestions about ways parents can support their children, teachers can help change their schools and support their students, and, especially, how students can develop support groups for each other as they develop survival strategies and advocate change, are valuable and workable, and also provide a vision of transition to democratic schooling. Just about every teacher, parent, and student should benefit from reading this book."
--Herbert Kohl, Rethinking Schools, November 2009
"Many professional educators will be stunned when they read Olson's new book Wounded By School. Olson dares to address the question that plagues many parents, educators and even students today: Where is they joy in learning?"
-Laura Lloyd-Smith, Ed.D., Education Review, January 2010
--Howard Gardner, author of Five Minds for the Future and Frames Of Mind: The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences.
"Kirsten Olson's book is refreshingly unlike the general run of sludge I associate with writing about pedagogy. It seems to be entirely free of the familiar platitudes which replace thought when we read about school matters, is scrubbed clean of pretentious jargon, and offers up the twists and turns of Olson's analysis and citations with beautiful clarity. I can't imagine anyone not being better for reading this book - Twice!"
- John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down, The Underground History of American Education, and Weapons of Mass Instruction
-Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap and Co-Director of the Change Leadership Group at Harvard University
"Kirsten's vivid narratives - both of wounding and healing - not only provide the book with tremendous emotional power and urgency, they also provide the structure within which its important recommendations can be both understood and enacted. The result is a book that is not merely a technical repair manual for our broken schools, it is a guide to how to revive their purpose, their spirit, and their hope."
-David H. Rose, Founding Director and Chief Education Officer, CAST, Transforming Education Through Universal Design for Learning
-Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Harvard Graduate School of Education, author of the Good High School, I've Known Rivers, and The Third Chapter
"Kirsten Olson has written a book that is at once intellectually engaging and replete with usable resources and proposals for action.... May this splendid book be read, discussed, taken to heart, and put into action by a growing company of educational ‘wounded healers.'"
-Parker J. Palmer, author The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, and Let Your Life Speak
"I work in a small high school of choice that is often the last hope for many of our students. Their stories expose the wounds that Olson writes about---some fresh, some hidden, most scarred over by distrust and discouragement. It takes compassion, patience, and dedication to create a school environment committed to healing those wounds-a school where students feel valued and empowered to uncover the joy in learning. No matter what challenges students may face at home, on the streets, or in their communities, school should be the ONE place that instills hope in the future. Olson calls on all of us to challenge the institutional practices that harm our most precious resource-our children."
--Cindy McMahon, Ph.D., Assistant Principal, Havermale High School, Spokane, WA
--Terry Chadsey, Co-Director, Center for Courage & Renewal, Bainbridge Island, WA www.couragerenewal.org
"Wounded By School provides evidence that the problems that we continue to encounter in schools, such as student non-achievement, drop out rates, student discipline, unengaged parents, teaching quality--these things aren't the problems at all. They are the consequences of a deeper pervasive issue--a fundamental problem that is our relationships with one another. How do we create a safety net so that we can build these essential relationships of trust, care and truth? That is the question this book puts before us."
--Deborah Donahue-Keegan, Visiting Professor, Wellesley College
-Grace at Grace's Book Blog http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com
"Olson's book is filled with stories and anecdotes taken from thousands of interviews of people who had traumatic school experiences. Some are still recovering from the pain, humiliation, self-doubt and outright trauma of the situations while others have persevered. While a large majority of her focus is on those with learning disabilities. Olson pulls no punches when she states that our current school system harms everyone - from burning out the talented and gifted to ignoring the ones in the middle to alienated and ostracizing those with problems, behavioral, cognitive or other. If we continue to ignore these traumas, we will continue to produce a workforce that is unprepared both socially and mentally for the business world and stand to lose the potential of hundreds of thousands of students who just give up."
-Michelle at Master Musings http://mastermusingsbymichelle.blogspot.com
"Why should you read this extremely illuminating book? If you are a student that is not enjoying school, you will begin to learn why. If you are a teacher and feel frustrated by the system, you can read about and find colleagues who are thinking about their work in new ways. If you are a parent you can learn how to keep your children intellectually and spiritually safe and well in school and how to work with school systems. Schools need to reevaluate what their purpose is. Shouldn't the joy of learning, creativity and recognizing the differences in students be more important then trying to push all students into one middle of the road mold and teach for standardized testing? You will not be able to read Wounded by School without agreeing that our educational system needs fixing."
--Jennifer Wagner, Examiner.com
"Every once on a while a book comes along that puts a hammerlock on our brain. The author's words seem to transport with ease to our neural roadways and merge into the traffic of our thought - with little effort and extreme interest. Translation: we can't put the doggone book down. Reading Wounded By School is like a journey to discovering a treasure, except one picks up little treasures along the way so that by book's end our mind is holding the whole trunk of jewels."
Buy The Book
The book is available for pre-order from Amazon, you can get it by clicking here.
It is also available from the publishers website, Teachers College Press by clicking here.
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