This book reflects a truism about our schools.
Having taught for almost 40 years, I have heard an absolute drum beat about how no one could work with teenagers. They have been vilified to the maximum. And even educators, those who should know better, stigmatize the very students they should be teaching. This book is disturbing, or at least should be ... but it is also spot on. Our society despises what it is not ... and it is not teenagers (or Iraqi, or Afghani, or Latin American, or native American, or ... ).
My experience though is not what is the common story ... the daily narrative ... it is a different experience altogether. Sure there is a less than 1% who are real troublemakers ... who are in fact lawless. But (and I spent a number of years working with the 'night school' kids ... the ones hovering on being discarded by the schools (including their teachers) and society) my experience is that so long as teens are respected, teens are willing to actually comply. So long as rules seem to make sense, teens are more than willing to do what they are asked, and so long as an effort is made to make things interesting, kids are willing to learn. Bore them, and you will have trouble; treat them as inferior, and they will not respect you nor the school you work in/for; follow insanely restrictive policies, and they will rebel. Think about it ... the last time you were cut off in traffic ... was it a teen? The last time you saw blatant rudeness, was it a teen?
Probably not ... but lock them down, treat them as inferior creatures, disrespect them, and they will react the same way you do.
Our solution for schools, as this book documents, is to impose restrictive controls, to attempt to monitor any and every thing ... the NSA does it ... the schools do it.
Am I surprised?
No ... what I am is saddened. I used to believe that America was a city on the hill, a light to the world. It is not ... it is cold, rapacious, and often evil society ... not founded on the rhetoric of democracy we have been taught ... but rather of a greedy, selfish, cruel, and ultimately vicious society. As we treat our kids, they treat the world. It isn't that the schools, highly vilified, didn't do their job ... they did. They produced a bunch of psychopaths ... a population convinced of the moral superiority, and doing the morally repugnant.