Lost at School by Ross Greene

Book Cover - Lost at School by Ross Greene

In Lost at School, Ross Greene highlights a very different way of understanding children that have behavior issues in school. He persuasively argues that children prefer to behave and do well and succeed in school, and when they don’t it is because they truly can’t. When children misbehave it is never because they lack the motivation to do well; rather, what they lack is the right skills and abilities to behave in more pro-social and accepted ways. Since children are lacking skills, what we need to do to help them is teach them those skills. Greene suggests that the best way to support these children’s social development is to engage with them in what he calls “collaborative problem solving,” a process in which the issues that child is having are discussed in a non-judgemental way, and both the adult and the child brainstorm solutions and strategies.

Recommended for:

All teachers, social workers, and administrators in all grade levels. Most of the examples in the book come from middle school settings but can be applied in elementary, middle and high school. This is a wonderful book, that truly inspires readers to do things differently. If “collaborative problem solving” becomes a regular practice in schools, the climate of “zero tolerance” and punishment through suspensions would change to a healthier culture of collaboration and supporting the children who need us the most.

Questions and themes to consider as you read:
  • If you are an early childhood teacher: How can you modify your language and adapt “collaborative problem solving” to the developmental level of young children?
  • Find someone to read the book with. This is the kind of book that you need to talk with someone else about in order to really process the information and begin to incorporate Greene’s ideas to your daily practice.