Learn Me Good
The summer before I started teaching, I read the novel Up the Down Staircase which was a pretty good learning experience for me. I wish I'd had a few similar books to warn me of what I'd face in the classroom—especially true (or mostly true) accounts.
Although I retired from teaching 14 years ago, I still like to know what's going on in the educational realm. Consequently, I recently downloaded and read the ebook version of Learn Me Good. It's a hoot on many levels.
Originally published in 2006, the epistolary novel by John Pearson recounts an engineer-turned teacher's first year teaching third grade math. Instead of written letters (Remember those?), Pearson—er, protagonist Jack Woodson— communicates via emails sent to a former colleague at the company where Woodson had been laid off. Pearson, who notes he changed names, calls the coworker "Fred Bommerson" and the company "Heat Pumps Unlimited." He also says, "This book was inspired by real experiences. A few of the details have been altered or embellished. . . . Nearly everything that I write about did happen at some point."
Having taught middle, junior high, and high school for three decades before taking early retirement, I can identify with what Pearson writes about—testing, uncooperative kids, testing, crazy kids, testing, parents, testing, crazy parents, testing, field trips, testing—well, you get my drift. This is a book that every education major should read before accepting a teaching job. The book is funny as all get out and some of Woodson's students seem impossibly weird, but the book rings true.
Having been married to an electrical engineer for 45 years, I especially liked the emails Mr. Woodson sent to his engineer buddy. A lot of the story is in the subtext.
Pearson, whose sequel is Learn Me Gooder, also blogs at http://learnmegood2.blogspot.com.
If you're a former teacher, a current teacher, a teacher wanna-be, or a parent of an elementary student, you just might want read this book. I give it an A.