Up the Down Staircase

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Overview

Bel Kaufman's Up the Down Staircase is one of the best-loved novels of our time. It has been translated into sixteen languages, made into a prize-winning motion picture, and staged as a play at high schools all over the United States; its very title has become part of the American idiom.

Never before has a novel so compellingly laid bare the inner workings of a metropolitan high school. Up the Down Staircase is the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher ...

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Up the Down Staircase

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Overview

Bel Kaufman's Up the Down Staircase is one of the best-loved novels of our time. It has been translated into sixteen languages, made into a prize-winning motion picture, and staged as a play at high schools all over the United States; its very title has become part of the American idiom.

Never before has a novel so compellingly laid bare the inner workings of a metropolitan high school. Up the Down Staircase is the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher whose dash with school bureaucracy is a timeless lesson for students, teachers, parents—anyone concerned about public education. Bel Kaufman lets her characters speak for themselves through memos, letters, directives from the principal, comments by students, notes between teachers, and papers from desk drawers and wastebaskets, evoking a vivid picture of teachers fighting the good fight against all that stands in the way of good teaching.

In its 47 printings, Up the Down Staircase has sold more than 6 million copies, has been translated into 16 languages, and made into a prize-winning motion picture. This funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic high school teacher is now availble in trade paperback, with a new introduction by the author.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Up the Down Staircase . . . should be read by anyone interested in children or education.” —The New York Times

“Easily the most popular novel about U.S. public schools in history.” —Time

“The most excellent and useful portrait of a[n] . . . American teacher’s life that we are likely to have for a long time.” —Life

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780139391583
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
  • Publication date: 10/28/1988
  • Edition description: 25th anniversary ed.]
  • Edition number: 25
  • Pages: 340

Meet the Author

Bel Kaufman (b. 1911) is a bestselling writer, dedicated teacher, and lecturer best known for her novel Up the Down Staircase (1965), a classic portrayal of life in the New York public school system. Kaufman was born in Berlin, the daughter of Russian parents and granddaughter of celebrated Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem. Her family moved to Odessa when she was three, and Russian is her native language. The family also lived in Moscow before immigrating to New York City when Kaufman was twelve. There, she graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College and with high honors from Columbia University. Kaufman then worked as a high school teacher in the city for three decades. The success of Up the Down Staircase launched her second career as a sought-after speaker for events around the country. Kaufman is also the author of Love, Etc. (1979), a powerful, haunting, and poignant novel rendering life as fiction. Kaufman continues to live and work in New York. 

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Hi, Teach!
2. Let It Be a Challenge
3. From Miss Barrett’s Letterbox
4. Intraschool Communication
5. And Gladly Teche #1
6. No One Down Here
7. And Gladly Teche #2
8. From The Calvin Coolidge Clarion
9. Those Who Can’t
10. Faculty Conference Minutes
11. Pupil-Load
12. A Doze of English
13. Enrichment Etc. Part III
14. Persephone
15. From Miss Barrett’s Wastebasket
16. JJ’s Lament
17. From the Suggestion Box
18. You Still Teaching?
19. The Greek Underground Part IV
20. Life Situation
21. Bulletin Board, Room 304
22. A Probing Question
23. The Funny Sides
24. From the Right-Hand Drawer, Room 304
25. A Message to Garcia
26. Touch Wounds
27. Clarification of Status
28. From the Suggestion Box
29. The Road Not Taken
30. The Author Tries to Say
31. Communication Arts
32. Over the Time Clock
33. Open School
34. You’re the Teacher
35. Please Do Not Erase
36. Integration
37. Neatly, in Ink
38. Unfortunate Incident
39. Debits and Credits
40. From the Suggestion Box
41. Do You Plan to Indulge in a Turkey?
42. I’m Not Cheating, I’m Left-Handed
43. As Far as Marks
44. Lavatory Escort
45. It Has Come to My Attention
46. From the Suggestion Box
47. My Reading Life
48. What Did I Miss?
49. Willowdale
50. The Lighter Side of Education
51. Love Me Back!
52. “Teacher for a Day” Day
53. Up the Down Staircase
54. Greetings on Your Illness
55. A for Effort
56. Ballad
57. Dear Sir or Madam58. Hi, Pupe!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 10, 2013

    Through a series of written documents including memos from the p

    Through a series of written documents including memos from the principal, comments from a suggestion box, letters to an old friend, notes from students, this story unfolds to show the ludicrous road blocks teacher must navigate to reach their students. This unique literary method makes this book a real pleasure to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 3, 2013

    I read this book some 25 years ago while in high school and thor

    I read this book some 25 years ago while in high school and thoroughly enjoyed it from the students' perspective. I jumped out of my
    seat when I saw that it was available on ebook. Bought it immediately! It made me laugh all over but now from the perspective of a teacher. Yes, it emphasizes the craziness. But it so tacitly emphasizes the little things that lassos a teacher's heart to her classroom. This is a perfect summer read (or re-read!)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Last fall, I saw that one of the books that I loved as a high sc

    Last fall, I saw that one of the books that I loved as a high school student, Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman, was being reissued as an ebook. I can vividly remember reading the slim book, a fictionalized account of Kaufman's experiences teaching in the New York City schools system in the 1950s and 60s.
    The book became a movie starring Sandy Dennis, and I loved that too. Although at times it paints a very bleak portrait of NYC public schools, what shines through is the main character Miss Sylvia Barringer's love of teaching and her students. This book was responsible for many young women choosing teaching as a career.
    The book covers Miss Barringer's first year teaching in a poor city high school. Most of the students came from poverty stricken families, and had so many other problems at home that school was either a refuge for them or a place they went to until they dropped out to get a job to help support their families.
    Miss Barringer is baffled by the students' actions and the ridiculous clerical work required from the administration. She quickly learns the language:"Keep on file in numerical order" means throw it in the wastebasket. "Let it be a challenge to you" means that you're stuck with it; "interpersonal relationships" is a fight between kids; "ancillary civic agencies for supportive discipline" means call the cops. "Non-academic minded" is a delinquent and "it has come to my attention" means you're in trouble.She makes friends with an older teacher, Bea, who shows her the ropes and encourages Sylvia to hang in there and try to reach her students. (I think the author is a combination of Bea and Sylvia.) She puts a suggestion box in her classroom and she shares many of the notes that her students leave there.
    The notes are funny, profane, and sometimes heartbreaking. We meet many of the students through them, including Edward Williams, who deigns to be class president and tries to impress Miss Barringer with his knowledge. Joey Ferrone is a tough guy, the one kid Barringer really wants to reach. She believes he hides his intelligence behind his rough exterior, and they have one interaction that is filled with tension.
    The book started out as a magazine article containing many of the real student notes that Kaufman kept from her teaching days. The magazine liked it so much, it became a full-fledged novel.
    I thought that in reading this book, it might feel dated to me, but it did not, and I'm not sure how that makes me feel. Schools are still filled with bureaucratic nonsense, and students in poor schools still get the short end of the stick. It makes me sad that in some ways we haven't come very far.
    After we saw the heroic teachers in Newtown who gave their lives to save their students, it is the right time to read or re-read Up the Down Staircase. It's good to be reminded of the many people who believe in the importance of teaching our children, and the challenges they face as they do it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2007

    Very Nice Book

    i read this book only because every time i passed by it the jacket called out to me, i began reading it and couldn't put it down. it gave me compassion were the had only been contempt for teachers. definatly a good read for any one who was a student. i also really enjoy the style it was written in. a very funny piece.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2003

    A Good Book

    I think this book is great because we students always complain about the work that teachers give us and I think this book is good because it shows how much work(and problems) we give teachers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Sam

    She waljs into Drama class and tajes a seat in the audotorium

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    Lol

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Funny look at communication within a school. Many of the issues facing Sylvia are present in schools today. Similar student responses and administrative memos could be found in today's school. Fun look at the inside of a school.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2006

    superb piece of literature

    I reccomend this book 100% to anyone. It has a very intersting plot and some very well developed characters. Excellent story for anyone to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2001

    The Best Book I've Ever Read

    This book I believe was written fabulously. I love the style of writing that Kaufman used. I liked the idea of not writing the conventional novel, but rather using inter-office memos, letters to friends, agendas from meetings, etc. I like to read to books, and then come away from them with a new idea or belief. This book has allowed me to do this. As an individual who is going into teaching, I think this book has helped to ground me in my decision somewhat. I recommend this book to all of my friends and colleagues.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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