Monday, July 6, 2009

Work Hard. Be Nice., Jay Mathews

This was fascinating to read, especially after reading Rafe Esquith's book and seeing the documentary about his classroom & teaching methods. The two founders of the KIPP charter schools were inspired in large measure by Rafe's methods.

As a teacher, books like this walk the fine line of being inspiring or being depressing in a guilt inducing way. I admire the dedication and hard work of teachers like Mike Feingold and Dave Levin but it's hard for me to wrap my mind around how you teach like that and have any kind of a personal life (or remain healthy). What made me feel better is realizing that these methods are needed in the inner-city where the students have no family support (and a million other issues). My students need me but in such a different way. The school is just one aspect of their lives (they've got functional parents, extended families, nannies, coaches, music, art, scouts, travel, religious programs, etc.) It is a completely different world teaching in the setting I do. And that's ok! That was my Louise Hay-inspired affirmation for the day!

I am glad there are people out there like Rafe and Mike and Dave who are passionate and capable of helping these children succeed. This book was such an engaging read. It really reads like a novel and is so sad in parts (too many people having tragic deaths) and a little scary at times.

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