Where The Finger Points: A Teacher's Story of Violence in School and a Discussion of Who's Also Responsible

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9781512384710: Where The Finger Points: A Teacher's Story of Violence in School and a Discussion of Who's Also Responsible
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It's a community's worst nightmare: children, teachers or school staff hurt in violent attacks in a place where they should feel the safest--school grounds. But when it comes to violent incidents in our schools, where can we point the finger?
Some say the fault lies with improper mental health care, violence in the media or poor parenting. But for award winning educator Sean M. Brooks, personal experience points to an unexpected place.
A lack of school direction, educational flaws, questionable safety, suspect practices, outdated traditions and rituals cause school-age children to snap.
Where the Finger Pointsis an impactful look at a classroom teacher's personal experiences and opinions--with valuable advice for preventing violence in our own school systems.

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About the Author:

Dr. Sean M. Brooks holds a B.S. in health education, an M.S. in education with a specialization in technology integration in the classroom and a Ph.D. in education with a specialization in learning, instruction, and innovation.For nine years, Dr. Brooks taught math, science, health education, anatomy, and physiology at the public school levels, grades six through twelve. As a public school teacher, Dr. Brooks pioneered conflict resolution groups, and College Mentoring 2.0. Dr. Brooks worked as an adjunct professor of education and student-teaching supervisor at Miami University.Dr. Brooks has spoken at national education conferences and lectured at the university level on the topics of violence prevention and conflict resolution in school, teacher education, teacher leadership, curriculum and instruction, classroom management, and health-education advocacy.

Review:

During the 2010 to 2011 school year, there were at least 11 homicides of youth ages five through eighteen at school, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The following year, the CDC reported approximately 749,000 "nonfatal violent victimizations" that targeted students ages twelve through eighteen. School is not the safe haven that it ought to be--a problem that has been made abundantly clear judging by the recent, well-publicized school shootings throughout the country. When reports of school violence make the headlines, public reaction is swift to make a scapegoat of lax gun control laws, mental disorders, and even parents. Yet, argues Brooks, these reactionary pundits are looking in the wrong direction. In his groundbreaking book, Brooks paints a distressing picture of the current state of affairs of public schools and offers some much-needed food for thought as to his opinion of the real culprits of school violence. The author argues that to stop or at least reduce school violence, it is necessary to take a holistic approach. That is, rather than looking at the symptoms (the violence itself), one must assess the illness (a flawed educational system). The school system is broken, Brooks asserts, because unprofessional, manipulative teachers and school administrators who perceive the students as troublemaking children who must be controlled perpetuate it. Brooks explores the broken policies, poorly constructed practices, and misguided educational vision as being the root causes of why students sometimes snap.
As an experienced educator, Brooks is well positioned to make these claims, which might seem on the surface to be rather brazen or perhaps even impudent. However, each chapter highlights an incident that he personally witnessed. As the narrative of the school year unfolds, readers learn shocking accounts of physical and sexual violence inflicted on students. Some incidents are blatant, while others take place behind closed doors. A set of common sense recommendations for promoting safe, professional, and respectful school environments follows each incident.  As someone who practiced what he preaches, Brooks is a refreshing voice that commands attention.
Although the author certainly agrees that school shootings are tragic events, he contends that the real problem is the daily bullying and acts of intimidation that occur in every school during each school day. The CDC reports that during 2013, 19.6% of students reported being the victim of bullies on school property at least once. However, contrary to common belief, this book points to bullying and intimidation by school administrators and teachers as being the real culprit. When figures of authority coerce and intimidate students, it creates what would be known in the corporate world as a hostile work environment. Brooks presents multiple examples of a frightening trickle-down effect: School administrators and board members force policies on teachers that are unworkable at best and oppressive at worst. Worse still, uninspired teachers who view their positions as the means to a paycheck rather than as a mission in life can inflict incalculable harm on the students--both passively and actively. The result is a turbulent brew of malcontent and abuse.
One alarming example in particular stands out from Brooks' narrative. A female student, whom Brooks knew to be an avid hunter and outdoorsman, was harassed by an administrator to the point of tears because she wore a jersey of her favorite sports team to school without paying the dollar fine for the privilege of doing so. Brooks points out that this student had ready access to plenty of guns and while she didn't return to school with a firearm, "When pushed, anyone can snap. What we don't know is how many pushes it takes."RECOMMENDED READ - The US Review of Books

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