Round Peg, Square Hole: A Teacher Lives and Learns in Watts

Overview

John Gust was fed up. With teaching. With bureaucracy. And with an educational system that seemed more concerned with students' employment prospects than with their enrichment. So it was that he left his teaching post in the Los Angeles Unified School System. So it was that his return-prompted by economic necessity-was inauspicious. And so it was that his transformation began. Now, in the tradition of Kozol, Dennison, and Kohl, Gust shares that unfolding process in Round Peg, Square Hole a personal narrative that...

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Overview

John Gust was fed up. With teaching. With bureaucracy. And with an educational system that seemed more concerned with students' employment prospects than with their enrichment. So it was that he left his teaching post in the Los Angeles Unified School System. So it was that his return-prompted by economic necessity-was inauspicious. And so it was that his transformation began. Now, in the tradition of Kozol, Dennison, and Kohl, Gust shares that unfolding process in Round Peg, Square Hole a personal narrative that is at once provocative, moving, and often funny.

The story begins when Gust-disillusioned, underpaid, and apprehensive-reluctantly accepts a teaching job in Watts, perhaps the nation's most notorious ghetto. Realizing how his sour state of mind would disadvantage his students, he decides to do something daring: he moves from his affluent Manhattan Beach neighborhood into the Compton Avenue Elementary School community. Here, he quickly realizes that conventional schooling techniques and state-mandated standards are wholly inadequate to the needs of his students. Round Peg, Square Hole takes us through Gust's quest for a more meaningful way of teaching-a journey that moves from the classroom to the playground to the streets to the homes of his Watts neighbors.

This book will appeal to any teacher who has struggled to teach critical-thinking skills in an atmosphere geared toward compliance with state-mandated standards. It will resonate with anyone concerned with race relations, social action, and redefining our notions of community. And it will be essential reading for any teacher-novice or veteran-who wants to make a difference in the lives of students.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This book is a rollicking first-person account of Gust's experiences-both in and out of school-wonderfully spiked with self-deprecating humor.”–Teacher Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325000909
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 3/30/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 145
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

John Gust is an adjunct faculty member at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He has written several books on enhancing students' self-esteem, developing character, multicultural education, systems thinking, and communication skills.
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Table of Contents

Reluctant Return - Classroom Essentials - Pick Up Your Feet! - Keep a Look Out for Drugs, Guns, Knives, and . . .- The Shootings - When Will It All Stop?- Our Philosophical Framework? What's That? - The Proselyte - Who's the Boss? - Democratic Dogs - Turning the Pack of Dogs into a School of Fish - Dream School - Meeting Meghan - "Their" Community? - White Man Can't Think - Visiting Victor - House for Rent - Moving In - Meeting the Neighbors - Saturday Morning Cartoons - Our Social Action Field Trip - "Hello Officer" - Room for Rent - 4-H for Sure! - What Do You Guys Want to Learn About? - Saturday in the 'Hood - Hangin' Out with My "Homies" - "Excuse Me . . ." - Are Our Scissors Sharp Enough? - How Do You Want to Learn All This Stuff? - Shootin' Hoops - Powerful Petition - Caution: Children at Work! - Architects Present - Meghan Moves In - Thinking About God - "Wannabes" - Murder on the Block - Darin Goes to Washington - From Digging Dirt to Shoveling Sh__ - Planting Our Playground - The Dedication - An Angel and a Pearl
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