Search Me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture by Kirsten Olson

Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture
Publisher: Teachers College Press
ISBN: 0807749559
Pages: 240 pgs
Genre: Non-Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

 Publisher’s Description:

While reformers and policymakers focus on achievement gaps, testing, and accountability, millions of students mentally and emotionally disengage from learning and many gifted teachers leave the field. Ironically, today's schooling is damaging the single most essential component to education -- the joy of learning.

How do we recognize the ''wounds'' caused by outdated schooling policies? How do we heal them? In her controversial new book, education writer and critic Kirsten Olson brings to light the devastating consequences of an educational approach that values conformity over creativity, flattens student's interests, and dampens down differences among learners. Drawing on deeply emotional stories, Olson shows that current institutional structures do not produce the kinds of minds and thinking that society really needs. Instead, the system tends to shame, disable, and bore many learners. Most importantly, she presents the experiences of wounded learners who have healed and shows what teachers, parents, and students can do right now to help themselves stay healthy.

My Review:

I had trouble getting this review out. The topic hit me like a brick to the face and the stories and experiences struck me so emotionally that it was difficult to figure out how to review it. I am going to give it my best shot.

My early schooling experiences were similar to the experiences written about in this book and I never realized how much was wrong with them until I read this book. I went to a fairly strict, private, Catholic school. It was the prototype of the "old" school style. You could only speak when asked a question (even then only answer as the teacher deemed appropriate), go to the bathroom only if you begged and pleaded and be creative...well...never. The type of schooling had a huge impact negative impact on me. I was a quiet child but precocious and extremely willing to learn. The only thing my teachers could see was that I was extremely quiet. In first grade, they even called my mother in to complain that I was too quiet and might be a bit "slow" and had even tried to read a book on my own and might be a bit too "smart". I had been reading books alone, children's books and such, and had always been quiet, so, my mother told them to bugger off and leave me alone. God forbid, a child be quiet and not be a constant disruption. This continued all through grammar school and then high school. I was always pushed to the periphery while the students who were boisterous and obnoxious got all of the attention and praise (even when they didn’t do much of anything). My whole idea of school changed when I got to college. I finally met the professors who would make me love learning and appreciate my opinions and intellect. I will be forever grateful to them for breaking me out of the shyness and help me love learning again.

I think that was a sufficient rant and now back to the review. I knew the minute I was offered this book that I had to take it. It reflected my life and struck a chord within me before I even read a page. I knew the book would have an impact on me. I had no idea how much. The stories were heart wrenching and they illustrated the points well. It was also written very well and in a very engaging manner. You can tell that Olson feels very passionately about the subject and makes you feel passionate about it too.

I think all teachers, especially of the younger grades, should be made to read this before they ever enter a classroom. Some teachers are unaware of the lasting impact they can have on children.The system doesn’t help either but the teachers have the most direct impact.  I am going to recommend this to some of my friends who are going to be starting teaching soon and hope they pass it on. I would recommend this to anyone involved in early childhood education and parents of children entering school. As you can probably tell, this book had a huge impact on me and I think anyone who picks up this book would have a similar reaction.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


  1. [...] Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler 33. All of Me-Lori Wilde 34. Wounded By School-Kirsten [...]

  2. Hello Grace, What a heartfelt review. Thank you. I really do feel very passionately about the subject and I thank you for sharing. I liked your review so much I am going to post it, along with a link to your website, at my site. I am appreciative of your sensitivity.

    Kirsten (author of Wounded By School)

  3. Hi Kirsten,

    Thank you so much. I'm thrilled that you like my review and are posting it to your website. It made my day.




Blog Template by In Between Design Studio