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.