Stupidity and Tears

Teaching and Learning in Troubled Times

A call to arms against the increasingly hostile climate of public education, hailed by Bill Ayers as “a wise and measured handbook for the struggle ahead”

“Expresses a refreshing idealism about the possibilities of the classroom. Give this book to anyone who wants to teach.” —Mike Rose, author of Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America

In Stupidity and Tears, renowned educator and National Book Award winner Herbert Kohl offers us a thoughtful and ultimately optimistic meditation on the forces that conspire to keep teachers and students “stupid”—i.e., frustrated and unable to excel in an education system that is clearly failing them.

Among the topics explored by Kohl are the pressures of standards based assessments and harrowing sink-or-swim policies, the pain teachers feel when asked to teach against their pedagogical conscience, the development of a capacity to sense how students perceive the world, and the importance of hope and creativity in strengthening the social imagination of students and teachers.

A rousing call for common sense in the face of dwindling budgets, crippling state mandates, and injudicious politics, Stupidity and Tears is “vintage Kohl—incisive, funny, reflective, profound . . . a provocation to educators to better teach all our children” (Norman Fruchter, NYU Institute of Education and Social Policy).


“[A] passionate declaration of war against a punitive, self-defeating system.”
O, The Oprah Magazine
“A call to arms.”
The New York Times

Books by Herbert Kohl

The Muses Go to School
Inspiring Stories About the Importance of Arts in Education

Herbert Kohl, Tom Oppenheim

Should We Burn Babar?
Essays on Children’s Literature and the Power of Stories

Herbert Kohl

“I Won’t Learn from You”
And Other Thoughts on Creative Maladjustment

Herbert Kohl

The View from the Oak
The Private Worlds of Other Creatures

Herbert Kohl, Judith Kohl

Goodreads Reviews