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After giving up his advertising job and moving to Santa Fe with his wife, Wilder (Daddy Needs a Drink) decided he needed a day job, so he signed on as an assistant first-grade teacher at a local "alternative" school. Its New Age pedagogy-"pursuing kindness and peace," counting games with "recycled organic materials," etc.-was fine, but he was spending most of his time tending a delusional nine-year-old girl, flushing bad boys' turds down the toilet and coping with hippie parents in denial about their bullying son. So he shifted to teaching seventh grade in a private day school, where there was just the usual preteen wackiness. Some days, so many of his students were "hoisting the middle finger," a passerby might think he was "teaching a lesson in profanity for the hearing-impaired." Teaching taught Wilder much about what to avoid, as a parent-especially about not being a "helicopter parent," obsessively hovering over his kids' every move. He also learned there are "two sides to this carpe diem coin"-we want our kids to go ahead and try everything, but we're uncomfortable when our toddlers actually start dancing with the cross-dressers on Halloween. Wilder may be a bit potty-mouthed for the mainstream parenting shelf, but he's honest and funny. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Having left behind an advertising career to work as a teacher, Wilder presents classroom tales so tall that they function less as reliable memoir than dramatic parody of classroom-as-asylum, with much of the (laugh-out-loud) humor derived at the expense of young students' attitudes, actions, and disabilities. Each of the four thematic parts (teacher training, student days, family and education, and a final selection loosely bound by the idea of a teaching community) depicts more stammering, twitching, swearing, and screaming than the average school could abide without being shut down. So while the essays in Tales from the Teacher's Loungeexhibit the author's knack for hyperbole and well-timed, outrageous hilarity, that entertainment value is boldly derived from disturbing classroom scenarios. An optional purchase, better suited to humor than vocational sections in public libraries.
Worlds apart stylistically and thematically, Painting Chineseshows Kohl (former director, Ctr. for Teaching Excellence & Social Justice, Univ. of San Francisco) as he retires after 47 years as a professor and takes up the art of calligraphy. Having inadvertently registered for a class for students aged five to seven, Kohl details the techniques he learns along the way, both calligraphic (the use of water and ink, how to hold the brush, the importance of copying the masters) and otherwise, delicately sorting the ontological questions, as well as the revelations that result. Kohl peppers his gentle reflections with references to extracurricular reading and research as when he considers the life of the Monkey King, the impact of Mao Zedong on the life of his mentor, the wisdom of WangWei, and the connections between Chinese painting and Taoism. Though sentimental on occasion, Kohl shows a willingness to inquire within that makes him a worthy role model for any student. Suitable for all libraries.
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted June 25, 2011
Posted January 6, 2010
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