In Chapter 22, Kozol has some reflections on past teaching experiences. He mentions that he has lost some of his fire to engage in intellectual arguments. This loss of motivation is due to the declining health of his parents.
His father is in a nursing home and suffering from Alzheimer's. While a patient at the nursing home, his father still enjoys playing the part of a doctor. Self diagnoses of his own mental state and a thorough lectures of what is actually happening are part of his daily repertoire. While visiting with his father, Kozol listens as the conversation takes them back to the days of his father going to school. Kozol is intrigued by the experiences that his father was able to enjoy. His father grew up in South Boston. He grew up poor, much like the children from Mott Haven. Still he was able to go to college at Harvard and eventually travel to Europe and meet specialist in psychology. This journey ultimately helped him to make the decision to give up law school against his mothers wishes and further his schooling in the Harvard Medical School.
Although it was not easy for his father to accomplish these task, it seems even harder for the children of Mott Haven. Kozol explains how he wanted the children he knew to have this opportunity, "I wanted them to have the richness and the thoroughness of education that my father had received, but I also wished they could know some of the freedom and intellectual capaciousness that he had known but which he had to struggle to achieve: the courage he had found to turn his back on expectations and adult determinations and the relentlessness of mind that that could permit him to risk everything by giving up law because his longings drew him all at once in an entirely new direction" ( Kozol 289).
To me the theme of the chapter was, the right attitude, and I think that this quote illustrates this theme.
The biggest influence on keeping kids from learning for me would be lack of interest. If it is not interesting to a young kid, others will probably not be interested either. Making spitballs and joking around with the other kids in class was much more interesting to me than to listen to a boring lecture of protons and neutrons. Siting in the back of the class room with upper class men that had previously failed biology was way more fun than the subject itself. I also think that when you are forced to do something. You do not put forth the same effort that you would if you chose to do something. Let's not forget that you are in the stage of adolescence and for many, being cool is more important than being a strait A student.