Saturday, September 28, 2013

Confessions of a Bad Teacher by John Owens

Confessions of a Bad Teacher: The Shocking Truth from the Front Lines of American Public Education
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. I chose it because I am a teacher and it sounded interesting. I agree that if most people spent a day in public school, they might be shocked. However, I was not too impressed with this book. The author spends a lot of time complaining about the principal he worked for. He really hated her and he quit teaching before he had even completed one school year. I wonder if he really wanted to be a teacher or if he just tried it for a year so he could write a book about it. Many of the things that he complains about are valid complaints and I agree that there are many things about our educational system that are broken. Other things that he complains about though are normal teaching skills. When students run in the hall, we should yell "walk" or "please walk" rather than "don't run" because, according to studies, when kids hear the word "run" and keep on running and when they hear the word "walk", they may just begin walking. I don't think that it is a difficult thing to ask teachers to phrase things positively rather than negatively. It sounds like the school district that John taught in could use a lot of improvement. I understand that. I taught middle school for 13 years, then volunteered in my children's schools some and have been substitute teaching for 4 years. I have been involved in 5 different school districts in all income levels from the inner city school where I taught my first three years to the nice suburban district where I now substitute teach.
I think that people who are not teachers may enjoy John's book and may indeed be shocked by some of the things he shares. I just think that John was a first year teacher in a difficult school and he was unable to manage teaching, student discipline and keeping to the standards that his principal set. That can be difficult to do in any teaching situation and it does sound like John's situation was especially difficult. John could not take it and he quit teaching. I did not find this book interesting enough to finish and I quit reading it. 

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