ON BEING A TEACHER by Jonathan Kozol


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In his latest foray against the system, Kozol (Death at an Early Age, etc.) advocates teachers' use of ""subversive"" tactics to change the institutions he sees as perpetuating inequality and immorality. Some of the tactics are relatively mild--sharing of teachers' guides with students, writing one's own history books, or opening students' records to parents (as the law requires anyway); others, however, are controversial at best. Teachers should not only provide a broad spectrum of contradictory ideas, they should also argue strenuously for their own points of view. (Kozol does suggest that ""kids will fight back"" with unspecified ""weapons"" that these same teachers have provided; but somehow all of his examples have the students adopting their teacher's radical stance.) American flags should be removed from classrooms, moreover, and students should confront boards of education with protests about reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. And there's some disquieting talk of ""professional protection."" Teachers are advised to stay under cover, to ""form a viable coalition for teachers' self-defense,' to go gently if conservatives are watching, to teach basics just to win the loyalty of parents. Much is made of engendering loyalty altogether-so teachers and students will rally behind a teacher who has been found unacceptable by the local school board, or who has chosen to take an issue to court (one chapter is titled ""Creating a Crisis-Or Awaiting One""). Ultimately Kozol wants the schools to be instruments of social change, to produce a generation of ""hard-working, ethically motivated, and effective rebels."" Not new--and very much less impressive than it once was.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1981
ISBN: 1851686312
Publisher: Continuum