The Most Appealing Ideas
In The Shame of the Nation, Jonathan Kozol explores the problems of segregation in schools that he witnessed back in the 1960s. In his book, Kozol presented the stories and events that were a part of his personal experiences and motivated him to focus on the research of the problems of institutional racism and the normalization of whiteness in the United States. One of the most appealing ideas in this book was the manner of presentation that Kozol used. In order to strengthen the impact of his writing, the author incorporated personal experiences and emotions into his dedicated research of the selected social problem.
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Also, I found it appealing and clever that the author approached the issues from the historical perspective and explored how segregation developed in the society, how it changed over time, and what causes and factors accompanied its establishment. In particular, the author’s deep and thoughtful presentation of the problem is very interesting because it help readers to follow the history of racism in education and recognize how the root causes that emerged and aggravated the issue decades ago transformed today.
For example, looking at the lack of funding in diverse or predominantly black schools that used to be based on the policies of segregation is still present today but in a disguised manner masked as the lack of costs and a complex set of multiple factors. In reality, it becomes visible that schools attended by students of color mainly and located in poor districts (just exactly were the populations of color were eventually forced to settle) are overlooked as destinations for funding and investment. Practically, in his book, Kozol unmasks the thought processes and practices hidden behind the widely accepted idea that the modern day racial gaps in education and opportunities have a very long history and thus are practically unsolvable.
The Implications of the Ideas in the Book for Me as an Educator
As specified by Kozol at the very beginning of his introductory section, he first witnessed the problem of segregation and racism in schools while working as an educator. Due to his placement in different schools including a school in a poor district, the author was able to see the racial dynamics in education and compare attitudes towards different groups of learners. In that way, it is possible to state that Kozol approached the problem of segregation in schools from the perspective of an educator and presented it in a way that educators like him could notice the same or similar tendencies in their workplaces and address them.
Therefore, it can be noted that the major implication of the author’s ideas for me as an educator is the need to focus on the racial attitudes in my own workplace and observe the dynamics in a critical manner in order to detect whether or not something essentially wrong is happening right in front of me. At the same time, Kozol called for more than just observation and critical evaluation from the side of the modern educators.
He also encouraged them to speak up about the identified problems and initiate action aimed at their elimination. As a result, the author’s ideas imply that educators, who read the book and could identify some problematic activities in their workplaces, should gather for discussions, advocate for the students, include the children’s families, as well as some local communities.
The Ideas That I Challenge
In his book, Kozol expresses a multitude of valuable and strong points and brings up many important subjects. The problems discussed by the author are still relevant in the contemporary American society and can be regarded as pressing issues that require quick solutions and the focus of educational authorities. At the same time, I believe that there is one idea of the author that needs to be challenged. In particular, Kozol proposes the creation of integrated schools that would include students of different racial backgrounds. In his opinion, this action would bring about the required change for the better. At the same time, the author does not present any kind of research data that would support his claim.
In other words, Kozol’s idea that the intentional establishment of schools with multicultural student base by means of putting together the students from predominantly white and predominantly black schools. Making this statement, the author excludes the potential for clashes, misconceptions, and the growing tension between students that could result in conflicts of different kinds and magnitude.
Also, the author does not specify how the issues of of privilege would be treated in such schools, as well as how cultural diversity would be celebrated on a daily basis in order to facilitate the establishment of a bias-free environment. In that way, recognizing the value of the stories about racial inequalities in schools presented by Kozol in his book, I would like to challenge his idea of puting students from the schools with different racial composition together and hope that they would magically get along.