Monday, September 7, 2009

Educating Esme Book Review

Have you ever wondered what really happens within the hallowed halls of public school? Do you want to know what teachers struggle with, what keeps them going, and what they learn each day as they teach? Educating Esmé takes you inside the world of public education as you have never seen it before.

We've all had teachers we've loved and teachers we've hated. My list of teachers I've loved includes 1) Mrs. Cavasano (third grade): who led us through daily calisthenics to keep our brains sharp 2) Mr. Connolly (Chemistry): Who taught us that you could make peanut brittle scientifically. And, of course, the bad apples 1) Mr. Case (Algebra): who told the girls to practice our waitressing skills whenever we missed a math problem. We can all make these lists, and I'm willing to bet that when Esme Raji Codell's students come up with teacher lists of their own, she will be one of their favorites.

Although Esme’s first year of teaching included a class of children who came from broken homes, and students who stabbed a substitute with a pencil, it was the administration that gave her the most grief as they questioned her methods (asking the children to call her by her first name and with the title of Madame rather than Mrs. – because she was nobody’s mistress). Despite all of the hardships, Esme persevered imaginatively teaching her class to Cha Cha as they learned multiplication, made a time machine to travel in while they read, and even allowed a problem student to walk a mile in her shoes as the teacher for a day.

This is a great book for parents, for teachers, and for anyone concerned about today's education system.

I was asked to do this review as part of a blog tour. Coinciding with this tour, a drawing will be held of the names of people who comment on the blog posts to receive one of the following books:
Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year
The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial
Work Hard. Be Nice. How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America
In Code: A Mathematical Journey

To enter, comment below with the name of your favorite teacher, and how they inspired you.


lrad said...

Every teacher's experience is different - and they're all interesting to read about.
My favorite teacher was someone who ran a club at the elementary school - the Exploration Club. I couldn't wait to be in the fifth grade as he only took fifth and sixth graders into the club.
We took trips after school to places in the area - GW Bridge and Little Red Lighthouse was an example.
I was able to work with him as a teaching practicum - I liked him as much as a grown up as I had as a child.

Cyril's cousin said...

I've taught at the college level where students just skip, or take calls during class. I prefer that to getting stabbed by a pencil.

There's all sorts of talk about teachers addressing students individual learning styles, some of which is ok. There's very little talk of teachers teaching within their teaching style. For some, some things just don't work, but when they express themselves, things can really click in the classroom.

SmartPumpkin'sMom said...

All those horror stories about public schools make me think ...very many times if i want my daughter to go there.
And I do admire the teachers who are trying hard to make a difference.

JamericanSpice said...

My favorite teacher would be Ms Brown who really saw me as a child needing to be taught than another name on her roster.

tgoforth1984 said...

My favorite teacher was Mrs. Stricklin. She taught me how to go for what you believe in. She always inspired the kids in her class to do their best at everything. In our physics class we built a robot and entered it into the OKBEST robotics competition and won 2nd in state and went on to compete nationally. It was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

Paul Bogush said...

My take on the book:

Anonymous said...

Very much love what you're doing here!