18 June 2010

Review: Lost at School by R.W. Greene, Ph.D.

Title:  Lost at School - Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges Are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them   
Author:  R.W. Greene, Ph.D. 
Genre / Pages:  Nonfiction,  Education / 305 
Publication: Simon and Schuster, 2009 
Rating:  Top shelf  
Source:  Chapters Indigo 
lj's plot in one pot:  School discipline is failing kids by not teaching them the behavioural skills that they lack.

Having (fairly recently) completed my bachelor's degree in education, and remembering how little anyone can tell you about classroom management/behavioural issues, I think this text should be mandatory reading for all who want to teach.  (big statement eh??  Let me try to back that up.)

Dr. Greene's main idea is that kids do well if they can.  It's hard to believe that so many adults don't agree.  When a child is misbehaving (for the 2nd or 22nd time) it can be difficult to remember that he/she is not trying to manipulate you.  Most (if not all) children do not want to get in trouble, and if they are seeking attention in negative ways, it's probably because they don't know how to seek attention in positive ways.  What does this mean?  It means that standard discipline techniques, such as detentions and suspensions don't work because they aren't teaching the student anything other than what they did was wrong (which most kids already know).  Discipline should follow the Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) technique - but you'll have to read the book to find out more about that!

I loved this book for many reasons.  It is broken up into different formats (part 'how-to', part anecdotal and part 'Q & A's').  Although the anecdotal portion felt a little long, a little cliche, it was still helpful in understanding exactly how CPS is going to sound/feel.  Greene's tone is neither patronizing nor condescending, he really tells it like it is, and seems to understand the resistance that a lot of adults might feel towards CPS.  In general, I really appreciated the concept that there is no cookie-cutter plan that is going to work for all students.  Imagine that...treating each individual child like an individual!  That being said, all future (and current) teachers should RUN, DON'T WALK and read this book!

"These kids clearly need something from us...They need adults who can identify those lagging skills and unsolved problems and know how to solve those problems (collaboratively) so that the solutions are durable, the skills are taught, and the likelihood of challenging behavior is significantly reduced." p.35

Check out the CPS website here and the Lost At School site here

PS - If you're a parent and like the sounds of CPS, check out Dr. Greene's previous title "The Explosive Child"

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