Feel Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays of Children and Schooling

Rather than offering a “how-to” teaching guide, Kohn successfully rattles conventional understandings of education by questioning common teaching practices and attempts toward educational reform. He questions many facets of education from assigning homework to increasing rigor for purpose and value.

He also pushed readers to consider aspects of teaching which are commonly overlooked, such as student happiness. Consistent themes in Feel Bad Education include the importance of learning via first-hand, contextually meaningful experience, and the need for differentiation for all learners.

Kohn also includes a critical perspective of standardized testing and its negative long-term impact on students. Throughout his work, Kohn reveals his dissatisfaction with the current top-down, standardized, approach to education. Rather, he promotes a more liberal bottom-up educational model.

Acquisition of Knowledge

According to John Dewey, “...the school must represent present life-life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the play-ground” (1897, p 3). Similarly, Alfie Kohn believes that the acquisition of knowledge is achieved through active participation or experience which is centered in student interests.

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He explains that “most of us understand on some level that one size is more likely to thwart than to fit all, yet education policies proceed as if that weren't the case…”.

Kohn explains that students are more likely to learn when they have a natural curiosity or interest in a topic, rather than viewing learning as boring or stressful. This style of learning is best enacted in cooperation with others and by placing educational focus on student choice.

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In executing this “human” centered learning atmosphere, Kohn argues that students will benefit from heightened self-esteem, self-determination, and autonomy (p 72).

Although this high-interest, active participation model of teaching seems like a valuable method of educating, it has been difficult for teachers to enact because current educational practice is centered around a standardized one-size-fits-all approach. In turn, teachers have struggles to act as a facilitator of education or a “member of the community ... which shall affect the child and to assist him…”(Dewey, 1929, p4).

As a result, the STREAM program has been implemented at several middle schools in the U.S. This program attempts to bridge Kohn and Deweys “human-centered” high-interest teaching philosophies with the current educational model of our country by “develop[ing] authentic experiences for students that connect state-mandated content standards to real-world projects”.

Updated: Dec 02, 2021
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Feel Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays of Children and Schooling. (2021, Dec 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/feel-bad-education-and-other-contrarian-essays-of-children-and-schooling-essay

Feel Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays of Children and Schooling essay
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