The book I have chosen for my book review is “I Hate School” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. Tobias takes note of the unattractive perception children have toward school. She mentions that school has become the dreaded chore children have to do. This negative perception has turned children who could be active learners to students who are forced to abide and conform to the expectations of a social system.
Tobias writes her book with the beliefs that the school system needs to evolve into a place that supports the needs of diverse children. She stresses that the “one size fits all model” is outdated. Tobias begins her book with the analogy of taking her kids shoe shopping. She does not force her child to squeeze into a tight pair of shoes nor selects baggy shoes. She cannot change her child’s foot but she can instead proceed to find the right pair of shoes that fit her son’s feet comfortably. That is what we have to do with education; we cannot continue to squeeze different kinds of feet to the same pair of shoes. We have to offer alternatives to the student’s that are part of the school system and adopt methods that provide an environment for them to grow and thrive.
Tobias believes that the education system is one that is focused on “outcome based” results. She mentions that schools are deeply focused on making students ones that “succeed” by good grades. The concept of “grades” in school is one that instills fear and insecurities in students. Good grades are seen as the purpose and end-goal of schooling as opposed to learning. Tobias emphasizes that we are conforming all students to think and act in the same manner. But in the end, when these students want to get hired, their employers are looking for unique and authentic qualities that the education system has discouraged to display.
Tobias offers practical applications for parents and teachers, so that they can improve the educational system. Tobias divides her book into four parts that addresses issues in schools that can be improved. The first encompasses the importance of physical environment. Students need to a stimulating environment that enables them to learn. One of the issues mentioned in this part is the time of school, and whether it is the optimal time in which children can learn. The next part of the book is approaching different learning styles. Teachers often teach in their own learning style, however there should be alternatives and other methods that support the needs of those students whose learning styles are different. The third part discusses issues of homework and testing. These are contentious issues that have been largely debated. The last part focuses on why as a community we should strive to change schools and not the children that are part of them.
Overall, Tobias’ beliefs underlie central issues in the educational system today. We want children to be active learners in the classrooms. But in order to benefits our students the most we should first be able to address the question “what is the point of school?”.