By: Herbert Kohl
In every classroom there is typically at least one student who decides they don't want to learn. In the case of Ms. Kota's class, there are multiple students on any given day I'm there. Sometimes the students who don't want to learn are in other groups in the classroom and I can observe the situation from my group far away protected by the horseshoe table I sit behind. Other times though I wasn't so removed because the child that didn't want to learn would be sitting right across that table from me and the student decided it was me they didn't want to learn from.
This happened a few times throughout the semester, with different students but it happened more often with one little girl in particular, Jane*. She ALWAYS wants to be first, first one to read, first one to take a turn in the game, first one to get coins (Coins is what was used in this classroom as an extrinsic motivation system), first for everything. Whenever I chose a different student to do any of these things, Jane* would throw a tantrum, turn around in her seat and sit with her arms crossed refusing to participate. She refuses to learn from me. She is selective about her refusal to learn however, and is not as practiced as the examples Kohl gives in his article. She doesn't always refuse to learn, she listens and learns from Ms. Cota, her classroom teacher, and sometimes she learns from me, but other times she refuses.
I don't know much about tis child's home life at all, but what the only thing she might be protesting is the lack of attention she gets at home. It could also be due the fact that she is only in the first grade and does not know any other way to get any attention at all. Whatever it is with this particular student, I do not believe she is standing up against a form of oppression. She is however, refusing to learn for whatever purpose, and could become a practiced non-learner like Kohl talks about if her situation is not given the attention it deserves.
*I changed the students name to Jane just for privacy reasons.