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I am not a natural-born teacher. I am not a writer of ease and facility. I've done a lot of zigzagging to get where I am. . . . I have to rethink, replan, revise. Adjusting my balance and positioning is ongoing.
We ask our students to write authentically, in their own voice. We validate their knowledge and their experiences. We want them to know the depth and joy of a lifelong love of reading and writing. In Zigzag Tom Romano writes his life, creating a model for us of the power that words - written, spoken, heard, read, taught - can have in shaping our professional, personal, and spiritual lives.
Tom Romano has long been known for writing with one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in the field. Beginning with scenes of waxing the floor of his father's beer joint, Romano shows us how his voice evolved over time, how he found simpatico voices among friends, family, mentors, and literary writers, and how he wended a long, twisting road to helping students find their own voices. We have long cherished Romano's Clearing the Way, and here he shows us that the journey to that book led him down the same kinds of hallways we have walked, into the same kinds of classrooms we have taught in. In Zigzag we also see how the episodes of Romano's life led him to discover the dynamic fusion of imagination, voice, and content that fuels his celebrated multigenre approach and energizes writing curricula around the country.
Romano speaks to us directly, confronting the problems every educator faces, and even years later finding more evidence that success and failure are not opposites but opportunities to learn - always to learn. From student to teacher, Ohio to New Hampshire, from miracle to meltdown to milestones, Zigzag opens a window into the development of a writer, a teacher, a reader, a learner. It is the story of our educational values - sometimes lived easily, sometimes shakily - and of what can happen when we pass those values on to our students.
Posted June 5, 2008
I found this book, written in an engaging and informal style, hard to put down, and since it¿s only a bit over 200 pages, I finished it in just a couple days¿with regret. Its subtitle, A Life of Reading and Writing, Teaching and Learning, sums it up nicely for me. Romano comfortably and casually follows the zigzag path of his life, from his earliest memories of growing up in Malvern, Ohio to his present position as a professor of English at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. While it¿s only 260 miles from Malvern to Oxford, the route Romano followed getting from one place to the other took many detours, including a noteworthy one to the University of New Hampshire, so he traveled many more miles over many years. The last time I remember a book inspiring me the way this one has was when, many years ago, a fellow teacher handed me a copy of Ken Macrorie¿s Uptaught. But Macrorie¿s viewpoint is that of a college teacher of writing Romano has had the advantage of working in classrooms at all levels from early elementary through graduate level in college. Partly because I was looking for a book to re-energize my teaching and partly because I liked his earlier book, Clearing the Way, so much, I bought a copy of Zigzag as soon as I first received a notice from the publisher about it. I feel it was money well spent. My teaching has been re-energized and now I have a deeper, more personal understanding of all the challenges conscientious teachers of writing face in their struggles to connect with and inspire their students. Romano¿s journey was indeed a zigzag one, a road ¿less traveled,¿ but one I found gutsy, and--when he makes that wonderful connection with students knowing he has really helped them learn and develop as readers and writers--an inspiring and exhilarating one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.