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Monday, July 30, 2007

The 300 -- a review

Can you believe it, this is my 300th post!!! It seems like only yesterday, I was posting good old number 297...

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out my book, Learn Me Good, to a company called Apex Book Reviews. As you may guess, this company reviews books. A few days ago, they e-mailed me a copy of the final review, and I was very pleased. This is supposed to be going up on Amazon and other sites (and possibly even in selected newspapers) soon, but I wanted to go ahead and post it here, because it is pretty awesome!

So without further ado...

Learn Me Good
John Pearson
ISBN: 9781411665897
Reviewed By Janet Pearson

Learn Me Good tracks the weekly correspondence sent between Jack Woodson and his former co-worker, Fred Bommerson. Having been laid off by Heat Pumps Unlimited, a thermal design firm in Texas, Jack pursues a new career path, spurred mainly by the enjoyment he's always derived from working with kids. With a natural knack for math & science, he becomes a third-grade teacher, embarking upon new adventures in the field of public education - the magnitude of which he can only imagine.

Jack quickly adapts to his new responsibilities, even quipping to Fred about the status report
he'll soon send to the Alumni Office at his alma mater, Duke University:

"Jack M. Woodson (Duke engineering, class of .95) is currently living and working in Dallas,
TX. He has forty children, and all of them have different mothers."

Thus begins Pearson's tale, an engaging study in the real education that goes on in the classroom, outside of textbooks, hall passes, and morning announcements. With its subtle cynicism, biting wit, and endless allusions to pop culture, Learn Me Good draws you in with just how easily Jack's everyday experiences with eight. and nine-year-old children parallels that which we experience with fullgrown adults on the job, at home, and everywhere else.

Without apology, Pearson takes jabs at every aspect of what passes for normalcy among today's
childrearing practices. He even pulls off this commentary on the conduct of a school district representative assigned to check the students' eyesight with sardonic aplomb:

"She felt that some kids may not WANT to wear glasses, so she made her pitch, and I
quote: 'I think glasses are SEXY!...' Should you really use the word 'sexy' around eight- and nineyear-olds? It's like airing a commercial for Bacardi rum in the middle of an episode of Sesame Street (Today's episode is brought to you by the letter B and the number 151!)"

And consider this assessment of the real priorities of today's youth:

"Chassity had been caught writing a note to one of the other girls. The gist of the note was
basically 'You're a witch. Who's a witch? You are, you witch.' And on, and on. Only, she didn't use the word 'witch,' instead preferring a more socially unacceptable rhyming word. Kelly and I had joked about the fact that nearly all of the words in the note were misspelled EXCEPT for that one word."

Pearson tramps the hallowed ground of public education with piercing wit and unrelenting irreverence, giving it a not-so-good-natured - but much needed - ribbing. He even takes a fair swipe at the current presidential approach to education:

"No Child Left Behind? No Child Left Untested Till He's Blue In The Face is more like it."

It's not always fun and games, though. Throughout his narrative, Pearson does an effective job of pointing out the various nuances of public education that rarely bring about smiles and laughter. Chief among these is the concept of mobility rate: the tendency of students to enroll and withdraw at the school at an alarming frequency. He even goes so far as to make the point that merely weeks into the new school year some teachers could have an entirely different class of students, which often makes them ruefully aware of the attachments that come and go:

"Why can't the good ones stay?? I know, I'm being selfish, I'll admit it. I'm just afraid when a
good kid leaves, because it just opens a hole for another Mark Peter to come in."

Considering the fact that Mark Peter routinely steals teachers' items and physically terrorizes other students, one can hardly blame Jack for this sentiment.

Timely, insightful, and absolutely hilarious, Learn Me Good needs to be required reading for anyone considering teaching as a profession. Much like the crip notes for War & Peace, it's an indispensable guide to all the real training you'll never formally get.


Ms. Longhorn LOVES Math! said...

Congrats on the 300th post AND a great review!!!!!!!! :)

Mister Teacher said...

Thank you!!