Cover image for Sit down and shut up : how discipline can set students free / Cinque Henderson.
Title:
Sit down and shut up : how discipline can set students free / Cinque Henderson.
ISBN:
9781250101884
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : St. Martin's Press, [2018]

©2018
Physical Description:
240 pages ; 22 cm
Contents:
Kids' rights, or, by all means, vote for that idiot! -- Broken windows -- Gems, knuckleheads, and assholes -- A candid world -- Stamped from the beginning -- The child is father to the man -- Less than zero tolerance -- Follow the money -- What it means to be distracted -- Forget it, Jake.It's Chinatown. -- Super sub -- Final days -- What can we do now?.
Abstract:
"On his first day as a substitute teacher, Cinque Henderson was cursed and yelled at by a class of 11th graders. One kid openly threatened him. Cinque, not wanting trouble, called the hall monitor, who escorted the student to the office. But five minutes later, the office sent him back. He carried a note that simply read, "OK to return to class." That was it: no suspension, no detention, no phone call home, no picking up trash after school, no sidebar conversation with the office to figure out how they could intervene. In the generation since Henderson had gone to public school in a poor black town in the rural South, the world had undergone dramatic change. Sit Down and Shut Up: How Discipline Can Set Children Free, part memoir, part jeremiad, is a passionate and personal analysis of that change, the story of Henderson's single year as substitute teacher in some of America's toughest schools. Henderson found that the culprits for the failures of our worst schools weren't some endless stream of unqualified teachers, but rather the result of population in crisis. He soon came to see that public school classrooms were hothouse laboratories/microcosms--chaotic, teeming, vibrant, tough--of all our nation's most vexing issues of race and class. Beneath the surface, the legacy and stain of race--the price of generational trauma, the cost of fatherlessness, the failures of capitalism, the false promise of meritocracy--played itself out in every single interaction Henderson had. Henderson also found solutions, namely a recommitment to the notion that discipline--emotional, psychological, behavioral and moral--wisely and properly understood, patiently and justly administered--was the only proper route to freedom and opportunity for generations of poor youth"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

On his very first day of school as a substitute teacher, Cinque Henderson was cursed at and openly threatened by one of his students. Not wanting trouble or any broken bones, Henderson called the hall monitor, who escorted the student to the office. But five minutes later the office sent him back with a note that read, "Ok to return to class." That was it: no suspension, no detention, no phone call home, nothing.

Sit Down and Shut Up: How Discipline Can Set Students Free is a passionate and personal analysis of Henderson's year as substitute teacher in some of America's toughest schools. Students disrespected, yelled at, and threatened teachers, abetted by a school system and political culture that turned a willfully blind eye to the economic and social decline that created the problem.

Henderson concludes that the failures of our worst schools are the result of a population in crisis: classrooms are microcosms of all our nation's most vexing issues of race and class. The legacy and stain of race--the price of generational trauma, the cost of fatherlessness, the failures of capitalism, the false promise of meritocracy--played itself out in every single interaction Henderson had with an aggressive student, an unengaged parent, or a failed administrator.

In response to the chaos he found in the classroom, Henderson proposes a recommitment to the notion that discipline--wisely and properly understood, patiently and justly administered--is the only proper route to freedom and opportunity for generations of poor youth. With applications far beyond the classroom, Henderson's experiences offer novel insights into the pressing racial, social, and economic issues that have shaped America's cultural landscape.

Sure to ignite discussion and controversy, Sit Down and Shut Up provides a frank evaluation of the broken classrooms of America and offers a bold strategy for fixing them.


Author Notes

Cinque Henderson is a graduate of Harvard University. He has written for HBO's The Newsroom and is currently a writer for Showtimes, The Chi. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the LA Review of Books, Newsweek and newyorker.com. Sit Down and Shut Up is his first book.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this polemic, Henderson, who spent a year as a substitute teacher in L.A. public high schools, asserts that "in our toughest schools it's not the teachers' fault, it's the students''" when kids aren't learning. He jumps off from his year of experience as a sub into a broad analysis of the social systems that have led to problems for the current generation of young people, especially young men of color, and a departure from traditional and (in his view) preferable norms of intergenerational respect. He defends classroom teachers, sometimes accused of failing their students; asserts that black teen boys require the threat of physical dominance from male authority figures who can physically overpower them; rants against "new-age, largely white education reformers," charter schools, and a notion of "kids' rights" that prevents schools from meting out serious consequences; and endorses respectability politics for black uplift. He makes proclamations more frequently than arguments: typical statements include "I'm sure education theorists will say you shouldn't ever get angry at kids. That's nonsense" (with no support for the claim about education theorists' views, and no explanation of why those views might be wrong). Henderson's bold but underresearched call for a return to the highly gendered, conservative values of an earlier generation reads more like part of a dinner party debate than a serious educational proposal. (Aug.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Kids' Rights, or by All Means Vote for That Idiot!p. 11
2 Broken Windowsp. 27
3 Gems, Knuckleheads, and Assholesp. 40
4 A Candid Worldp. 58
5 Stamped from the Beginningp. 78
6 The Child Is Father to the Manp. 106
7 Less Than Zero Tolerancep. 128
8 Follow the Moneyp. 145
9 What It Means to Be Distractedp. 169
10 Forget It, Jake. It's Chinatownp. 186
11 Super Subp. 200
12 Final Daysp. 212
What Can We Do Now?p. 219
Notesp. 223
Indexp. 233