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Getting Schooled    by Garret Keizer order for
Getting Schooled
by Garret Keizer
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2015 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

It is always informative to hear the other side of an argument. That is if you listen. Garret Keizer presents his side of the ever ongoing argument over how cushy a teacher's life might be.

He tells his story just as it happened. Cushy? Hah! My two daughters are both teachers, as is one son-in-law. This is not an easy profession. My daughters told me that this book accurately reflects their lives as a teacher. It could have been telling their own stories. I am very proud of my girls. And of my son-in-law who, at 57, is starting his new career as a physics teacher.

After years away from teaching, Keizer returns to the same rural Vermont school where he taught fourteen years before. He agreed to sit in for another teacher's year while the latter took a sabbatical. He quickly became aware of the changes that occurred in the profession during the writing phase of his life. I cannot begin to list the baffling changes. Nor shall I try. Read the book for those details.

I found this an extremely interesting volume, which almost reads like fiction. Teaching is not just a profession but a way of life. There is not much time left from the daily grind of instructing students, many of whom are not so keen on the idea to begin with. But, when the day ends, it is not over. There are interminable papers to grade and test scores to post. Lesson plans to write. As well as angry parents to pacify.

Very different, as well as indifferent, personalities inhabit schoolrooms in the guise of students. The teacher must capture the imaginations of as many as possible before feeling that he/she is doing his/her job. I call it deeply felt dedication.

Not as a teacher, but as a mother of teachers, I recommend Getting Schooled as a good summer read. Summer is usually spent getting ready for the new school year to start in the Fall. And to build up the muscles needed to carry home all the books and papers to be perused in the evening hours during that year.

Teaching our future leaders and professionals takes a certain personality. Read and see what it takes. Maybe you'll look at your children's teachers in a different light.

New York Times Book Review writes 'Keizer writes eloquently and perceptively ... More than just thoughtful, reasonable, carefully observed, elegantly written and deeply humane, this book is also that rare thing, a work of genuine wisdom.' What more can you ask?

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