Learn From You

Learn From You The purpose of this paper will be to make a thorough review of the book, “I Wont Learn from You!”. I will do this by discussing some of the main ideas and points that are focused on throughout the book. Also compare and contrast the different stories within the book, to earn a better understanding of the concept and overall meaning that the author, Herbert Kohl, is trying to get across to the reader. I believe reviewing the ideas of the book will allow us to not only comprehend the true meaning more, but also make it more applicable to our education and careers. The author begins the book with main idea displayed, the idea of “learning how to not-learn”.

This is a very complex thought and many times is misconceived as being an excuse for the inability to learn. Although, the process of “learning how to not-learn” is generally a much more grueling experience. This process of “learning how to not-learn” consists of an active and willful rejection of someone teaching something new to you. The first example that the authors uses to implicate this willful process, is with a fifth grader who explains to his teacher that his grandfather will not learn how to speak English. Even after being confronted and offered a chance to learn English, the grandfather still refuses. He refuses due to the fact that if he gave in like the rest of his family and spoke English instead of Spanish, then they wouldnt know who they were. This fear of losing ones culture caused the grandfather to learn how to not-learn. To support the idea of this being misinterpreted, I will use the example of other views of this action.

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The author presented this story to colleagues who concluded that the grandfather was doing this for the fear of learning or the failure there of. The author also backs this story up with a personal experience, which is on the same track as the Spanish to English story above. As a child the author was brought up in a family, which he was traditionalized in a Jewish sense. His parents made him attend a class where he was suppose to learn Yiddish. As the grandfather had chosen to “not-learn”, so did Herbert Kohl himself as a child.

He refused to learn Yiddish. When it was spoken he, would change the subject, when talked to in Yiddish he responded in English, and when tested in Yiddish he cheated. He willfully refused to learn, because he found it useless and pointless for him to know such language he would never use. Now, he regretted not learning the language because it would have made him a better person, but at the time there was no realization of this. Learning to not-learn can be noble and useful as well as harmful.

The author then takes an education turn and talks about a student named Barry. Barry was an African-American student who was being held back because of his supposed inability to read. This supposed inability was just that, he had chosen to not- learn to read. The teacher Barry previously had from last year was afraid and labeled Barry as basically being useless. Barry was know by the other students as being the child that the teachers were afraid of. Herbert Kohl confronted Barry with a book and asked him to read it, which in turn, Barry through a temper tantrum and threw the book on the floor. After assessing the situation, Herbert Kohl went to Barry and quickly read the first sentence to Barry and asked him to read it back. This allowed Barry to not give in to the teachers demands but just repeat the sentence that was just stated by the teacher.

Barry did so and slowly throughout the next few weeks his reading gained strength and durability. Another example used in the book is a student by the name of Akmir. Akmir was an African-American student who struggled to maintain his culture and his roots despite the racist school systems he was brought up in. He attacked the curriculum in class and made it a time to fight back against the white racism taught in the classroom. This way, of “not learning” allowed Akmir to live the life he wanted and not to conform to an already racist system.

This is just another example of a child willfully refusing and learning not to learn. Although there were more stories within the text, I believe that the ones touched upon in this review are the most influential and significant. I believe that the book, “I Wont Learn from You” not only is a must for all teachers and educators, but wake up call to our society. Anyone going into the educational field is obviously going to come across kids who are learning to not learn. This is book allows you to understand the reasons why and the solutions to the problem.

It can be used as a building block for future reference within any classroom. Regardless whether it is elementary, high school, or even college. The process of learning not to learn can be picked up early in a classroom and the teacher will be better able to access the child needs and exploit his refusal. This will not only make a better teacher and classroom, but a better student. We need to move away from the racist system and derogatory terms we use in our day to day life. When a child of a minority race, reads this the systems in ruining this child and allowing problems to occur.

The learning to not learn aspect of this comes into play. Our society as a whole has made gigantic strides in equality in the past years, but obviously there is still much work to be done. The only way to negate our problem is for us to stop “not learning” equality and begin to learn a fairness between us that will allow us to work together in the future.