I chose this book because the very title itself captures how many of my students seem to feel and act. And we can talk about all sorts of academic issues and blending learning as much as we want, but until we can get the students to come to school and have some capacity and support for dealing with their behavioral challenges, I’m not sure how much any of us can do.
Greene’s suggestions are deceptively simple and, as he shows through somewhat stilted anecdotes, much harder in practice. Greene gives us the foil, the teacher who’s been there and seen it all, who thinks students need consequences and not conversation, and he gives this teacher a fairly reasonable voice.
I appreciate that Greene seems to be actually aware of how school really works (and can work). For example, the best laid plan goes completely awry when the student who is at the center of the narrative that runs throughout the book (I enjoyed this concept) has a substitute teacher.
While I didn’t agree with one of Greene’s most basic premises – that “[g]ood teaching means being responsive to the hand you’ve been dealt” – it seems to cynical to me – I do agree that it’s time, long past time, to stop doing things that we know don’t work. And as we’re doing it, it’s important to reconsider how ideas spread and what it means to say that something is ‘working.’