September 17, 2019

Review: Lost in School by Ross W. Greene

lost in schoolI immensely enjoyed the narrative portions of this book.  Ross Greene does an exceptional job showing how deficits in skills oftentimes manifest themselves as behavioural challenges.  The gut response  by adults is too often  that it is an issue for discipline.  Yet, so often,  the disciplinary approach only increases the undesired behaviour.  On the other hand, addressing the underlying skill deficit is both the compassionate approach and the approach that succeeds.

Students who are confused in the classroom tend to become bored and frustrated, and then avoidance tactics are a natural result.  Suppose that a student who has decent math skills is becoming disruptive in math class.  There could be several different reasons, other than math ability, that contribute.  There could be a speech/language issue such that the student has trouble posing a question.   The student may have anxiety issues that need to be addressed when new topics are introduced.  Or, perhaps the student feels socially awkward and does not know how to address the situation without feeling too vulnerable.

Once we understand the cause of the difficulty we may proceed constructively in a manner that allows the student to learn math while addressing the deficit, and the class as a whole may move forward. Successfully addressing such issues is a wonderful growth opportunity for the teacher as well.

If, on the other hand,  a punitive approach is adopted,  the student does not learn, and the student becomes increasingly frustrated.  The problem typically escalates.  We must always be careful that we do not ask students to overreach their current level of ability.

Ross Greene provides some specific tools including a check list that may be very useful.  He also presents case studies in a narrative form to illustrate the ideas.  I personally found these narratives to be the most enjoyable.

While the book is intended for children in school, the mindset is also useful for dealing with difficult adults!  For more information visit http://www.lostatschool.org/.