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36 Children

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A former teacher recalls his two years in a Harlem school. A new Introduction and a wide selection of stories, poetry, and drawings by the children are included.


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A former teacher recalls his two years in a Harlem school. A new Introduction and a wide selection of stories, poetry, and drawings by the children are included.

30 review for 36 Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tlsmith

    Both of my parents went back to school to get their masters in education a few years ago. Besides having to help them with their term papers, they shared some of the books that they had to read for their classes with me. This was one of them. Its a book about a Harvard/Columbia educated middle school teacher in the mid 1960s. After asking too many questions at his previous school, Herbert Kohl is punished by being reassigned to a school in Harlem. He encounters a very diverse and unruly classroo Both of my parents went back to school to get their masters in education a few years ago. Besides having to help them with their term papers, they shared some of the books that they had to read for their classes with me. This was one of them. Its a book about a Harvard/Columbia educated middle school teacher in the mid 1960s. After asking too many questions at his previous school, Herbert Kohl is punished by being reassigned to a school in Harlem. He encounters a very diverse and unruly classroom when he gets there. The book chronicles how he figured out, through trial and error, ways to get through to each of his students. The book does an amazing job of showing how a teacher is a witness to and part conductor of the amazing changes that happen within their students throughout the year. In the end, since this is a real story, most kids do not turn out well. But it does give you hope and gives a much needed expression for the depth of what it can mean to be a teacher. After reading this book I heard a discussion on NPR about whether teaching has changed/improved over the years. A person in the audience asked the question: "After reading Herbert Kohl's 36 Children there was an army of young people who wanted to turn things around in education. Its been forty years since then and nothing has changed." With that comment I think this book also tells the story of how desperate the need for change really is.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Ulloa

    36 Children is an account of a teacher in an inner-city HS in the 60's (NYC?), his classroom, and his attempts to reform. This book was not comlex, and the language was not always the best, however, it was moving in its message that there needs to be change, and it begins with one classroom at a time. I read this when I first started teaching in NYC, and it absolutely terrified me how a system is still structured to not allow for the success of young people, and although there are attempts to re 36 Children is an account of a teacher in an inner-city HS in the 60's (NYC?), his classroom, and his attempts to reform. This book was not comlex, and the language was not always the best, however, it was moving in its message that there needs to be change, and it begins with one classroom at a time. I read this when I first started teaching in NYC, and it absolutely terrified me how a system is still structured to not allow for the success of young people, and although there are attempts to reform, we still have a long way to go before there is equality in the classroom for all students.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    This is the only story of a teacher who makes a difference that is at all believable. Kohl took real chances and never quit work to go do a lecture tour. he remained a teacher his whole life. He allowed students to make decisions about their own learning and always put his students first, before other teachers, administrators, and even his own career. Kohl is pissed. Definate recommendation to anyone who thinks you can't work within the system. (Although Kohl himself insists that you can't, but This is the only story of a teacher who makes a difference that is at all believable. Kohl took real chances and never quit work to go do a lecture tour. he remained a teacher his whole life. He allowed students to make decisions about their own learning and always put his students first, before other teachers, administrators, and even his own career. Kohl is pissed. Definate recommendation to anyone who thinks you can't work within the system. (Although Kohl himself insists that you can't, but that doesn't come until the end of the book.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    Good, with good ideas, but probably would recommend other books about teaching before this one. Was probably more relevant in the 60s and 70s - though I'm sure the racial tension still exists and manifests today. Loved the children's stories. Good, with good ideas, but probably would recommend other books about teaching before this one. Was probably more relevant in the 60s and 70s - though I'm sure the racial tension still exists and manifests today. Loved the children's stories.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Feltskog

    For me, this was the right book at the right time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shiri

    Very good read for educators and who ever works with children. Never give up!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Great read for educators.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    A study of the education system in the USA (and the school system in general), and how it fails poor people, written in the 1960s. Fascinating observation on how unstructured, artistic and philosophically-driven learning can benefit children. Made stronger by the inclusion of stories and work by the children that Kohl taught (including the chillingly brilliant short story 'The Condemned Building' by Alvin). As a teacher Kohl seems to care about his students. Occasionally dated in language; some A study of the education system in the USA (and the school system in general), and how it fails poor people, written in the 1960s. Fascinating observation on how unstructured, artistic and philosophically-driven learning can benefit children. Made stronger by the inclusion of stories and work by the children that Kohl taught (including the chillingly brilliant short story 'The Condemned Building' by Alvin). As a teacher Kohl seems to care about his students. Occasionally dated in language; some meandering sections and bland language spoil passages, but this is still a very relevant book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    This is a classic -- Kohl's story of transformation in a Harlem classroom. At first it is an inspiring story, but he ends up more cynical and despairing as he sees that how one good year with them was not enough, and he continues the story with follow-ups of many of the children and the struggles they go through over the next few years. This is a classic -- Kohl's story of transformation in a Harlem classroom. At first it is an inspiring story, but he ends up more cynical and despairing as he sees that how one good year with them was not enough, and he continues the story with follow-ups of many of the children and the struggles they go through over the next few years.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Volkert

    Autobiographical account of the author's first year teaching 6th grade in a Harlem school. He shares struggles, ideas, insights, events, and examples of his student's work. A real challenge to our educational system. (I read the 1967 edition of this book.) Autobiographical account of the author's first year teaching 6th grade in a Harlem school. He shares struggles, ideas, insights, events, and examples of his student's work. A real challenge to our educational system. (I read the 1967 edition of this book.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Yasir

    Good read!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hillary

    No less relevant today...so many of Kohl’s insights & experiences can and should be applied to education today.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jordyn Prestwich

    This book was fascinating and educational. I loved it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This is two years in the teaching life of a young impressionable Jewish kid from the Bronx teaching sixth grade in Harlem. He leaves after two years, not because he’s not making a difference, but because one year isn’t enough to help these children. And he taught them in 1963-65. The book came out in ’67. [I thought he got fired for teaching Langston Hughes, that was Kozol, but the truth is no one *cared* what he did or didn’t do with his students.:] ”…Now I am convinced that that system, which This is two years in the teaching life of a young impressionable Jewish kid from the Bronx teaching sixth grade in Harlem. He leaves after two years, not because he’s not making a difference, but because one year isn’t enough to help these children. And he taught them in 1963-65. The book came out in ’67. [I thought he got fired for teaching Langston Hughes, that was Kozol, but the truth is no one *cared* what he did or didn’t do with his students.:] ”…Now I am convinced that that system, which masquerades as educational but in Harlem produces no education except in bitterness, rejection, and failure, can only be changed from without.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sunny

    I thought this was quite insightful. Its about a teacher in the 60s ish who gets to teach a 6th grade class of black kids in Harlem New York. The relationship between him and the kids is tough to start up with but then he develops an incredible relationship with them that goes beyond the curriculum they are set. He started teaching them the most amazing and wide array of subjects and through his teaching brings them to life. A must read for any teacher I feel and very rewarding if you are a pare I thought this was quite insightful. Its about a teacher in the 60s ish who gets to teach a 6th grade class of black kids in Harlem New York. The relationship between him and the kids is tough to start up with but then he develops an incredible relationship with them that goes beyond the curriculum they are set. He started teaching them the most amazing and wide array of subjects and through his teaching brings them to life. A must read for any teacher I feel and very rewarding if you are a parent as it gives you lots of interesting ways to make teaching interesting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    This was a great, if not somewhat depressing, book. It was depressing in part because it deals with the American public school system, always under appreciated and underfunded. It's also an upsetting look at how little the educational system has changed since the mid-60s when this was written. It was also inspiring and rejuvenating as an educator. This was a great, if not somewhat depressing, book. It was depressing in part because it deals with the American public school system, always under appreciated and underfunded. It's also an upsetting look at how little the educational system has changed since the mid-60s when this was written. It was also inspiring and rejuvenating as an educator.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Esther

    I read this book before I had ever entered public school. even as a student in a public school system, there was little connection, it seemed to me, between my own life and those of the children described in this book. Now, caught as we are in the ever constricting noose of standardized testing as our sole means of evaluation, it seems more relevant than ever.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    I absolutely hated this book! It made no sense at all. The author just babbles about nothing and just randomly talks about whatever is on his mind. I wouldn't recommend this book to my worst enemy! I absolutely hated this book! It made no sense at all. The author just babbles about nothing and just randomly talks about whatever is on his mind. I wouldn't recommend this book to my worst enemy!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Hmm. I wanted more from this book. I didn't realize such a large part of this was the children's writing. This may sound quite shallow, but I kept comparing it to movies about teaching inner city kids. that's probably not fair, but there you go. Hmm. I wanted more from this book. I didn't realize such a large part of this was the children's writing. This may sound quite shallow, but I kept comparing it to movies about teaching inner city kids. that's probably not fair, but there you go.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    This is an amazing book!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    "Freedom is only real when people are able to care about more than their own needs." "Freedom is only real when people are able to care about more than their own needs."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ernesto

    I hate the man.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Angel

    Inspiring!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Kutil

    Quite a great story of a teacher trying to help kids in Harlem reach full potential. He also shared some of the stories they wrote too. Hard to put down.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adia

  28. 5 out of 5

    PJ

  29. 4 out of 5

    J

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julia S

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