On Being a Teacher by Jonathan Kozol is divided into two parts. Part one is about the actual issues and the actions teachers can take. Part two covers how to organize people into a support system for teachers. Kozol advocates a more honest and successful type of teaching throughout both sections.
Kozol perceives a war waging between teachers and the public school system (Kozol, 3). Teachers are trapped victims confined to the two purposes public school is attempting to accomplish. Those two goals include “class stratification and political indoctrination” (Kozol, 7). He believes that students should be aware of what is really being taught so they can react accordingly (Kozol, 9).
Schools have removed all sense of self and intense feelings, opinions, and expressions (Kozol, 10, 15). Kozol claims that shielding students from the realization that teachers have personal feelings dehumanizes teachers. Students should know that teachers are not plastic, which means teaching in a more honest way (Kozol, 13). On the other hand, children are chastised for being negative or confrontational when they express dislike for anything (Kozol, 16). Kozol urges teachers to face the issues by giving the facts instead of watered down versions of the truth (Kozol, 17). Above all, a teacher’s words and actions mean more to their students than any dead author ever could (Kozol, 20). One step further than the ability to be negative, the public school system has rung the ability to simply say ‘no’ out of students (Kozol, 21). Adults, such as those involved with Hiroshima, have had disastrous results with being unable to say no (Kozol, 24).
According to Kozol, historical women are either reduced to politically correct representatives or traded for ...
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...rning of these behaviors. In part two, Kozol advocates for teachers to organize with parents and other teachers to rise up against the public school system. If this is truly what is best for the students and what the parents want, a rebellion is what the system needs. Nonetheless, rebellion will be messy. I will inevitably interrupt the classroom learning. The freedom of personal views should not come at the expense of student learning.
In conclusion, Jonathan Kozol’s On Being a Teacher is a fascinating read with interesting ideas on how to change the public school system. Each of his ideas comes with support, stories, and solutions for change. These points contradict each other at times. Other times Kozol seems to be simply looking for a fight. That war needs to be waged if it is needed. In some cases, it is not. Each idea and theme is still valid in its own way.
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