Chapter 13: Unteachable Students

I don’t know if I’m going to read any more of this book anytime soon. This is the pattern I’ve followed for years. I read a chapter that interests me, an introduction or preface, and then put the book down for another. I have a hard time reading books like this. Books that are literally summed up by their title. I am, however, well into Questioning Technology, although I’ve yet to write a word, I am enjoying it. Coincidentally, A Critique of Cynical Reasoning came in the mail yesterday, and from the initial flip-through, it also deals with the events of Paris 1968. Connections like that excite me. Just as an aside, the preface of Questioning Technology is all you really need to read to understand where Feenberg is going with his argument, but I haven’t stopped reading yet, and I’m sure it’s because there’s a depth in Questioning Technology’s argument that just isn’t there in Hold on to your kids. I’m also going to write up a couple chapters from the Education Reader. Another book I don’t think I’ll finish. Maybe I will. I am thinking about something here. I react strongly to certain ideas. I just turn away in frustration. Like in some paper this week sometime, there was a headline, something like How Canadian Are You? Under the headline there were two portraits. I can’t go into any more detail, because I don’t have anymore. The sight of this was enough. It’s an involuntary response. Some sort of thought exists on my part I’m sure, but I don’t bring myself to the point of confronting “How Canadian Are You? Under headline … two portraits.” The same thing happens with books like the Education Reader, that’s the word — confrontation. Maybe I should confront these ideas. I don’t have the time. I mean I’m already about 6 chapters behind in my write-ups here. You see I’m thinking out loud. … … I’ll add another book to the list, another parenting/education book. I think it’s called Kids are worth it. If I find that How Canadian are you? article, maybe I’ll write about that too. I don’t know what I’d write, I’m serious about the frustration. It’s a wordless reaction. Of the same sort I get looking through the Education Reader. Hold on to Your Kids and Kids are Worth it, are a different sort of frustration. If I read a chapter here and there, while reading other more enjoyable books between, I’ll eventually get through them. There’s something there in the struggle to read these books. I’m hoping. I read Kids are worth it over 4 years ago and couldn’t today tell you one thing about the book. That’s not completely true. It is a parenting/teaching book. I mention this because Hold on to your kids is the same genre. As someone who’s been a classroom teacher and who plans on once again teaching in a classroom, I’ve seen that these books make their way, or at least one idea makes its way around teachers lounge. And that’s the idea that parenting and student success are linked. Teaching in the best of situations is never easy. (That teaching is situational says something) But sometimes it is tougher than others, and when it’s real tough, parents aren’t much help. The problem with these parenting/teaching books is that they set the preparation for learning in the home. And when kids fail, the parents have failed.

In Chapter 13: Unteachable Students we read that a “shift in the attachment patterns of our children has had profoundly negative implications for education.” The authors go on,”Until relatively recently teachers were able to ride on the coattails of a strong adult orientation engendered by culture and society.” Now the title of this chapter names a category of student that doesn’t really exist (All children are teachable.), and that’s troublesome. It’s troublesome that our schools do nothing, read that they can do nothing for children so categorized. There are books written for everyone. Whatever you believe you can find validated in print. And here in Chapter 13 of Hold on to your kids teachers can validate their feeling that some kids are unteachable. They can read that they are not totally responsible for the education of children, because parents and all other adults who come in contact with children and shape society are also responsible. The way of thinking, the concepts out of which Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté create concepts are so simple they can’t possibly be mapped onto any reality. There’s a kind of defeated idealism at work here. Maybe I’ll come back to this later.

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