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Letters to a Teacher Paperback – September 6, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802142273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802142276
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pickering, an English professor at the University of Connecticut and personal essayist (Waltzing the Magpies; The Best of Pickering; etc.), serves up pedagogical advice couched in folksy language and peppered with personal anecdotes, tall tales and family stories. In 10 letters (on "The Good Teacher," "Truth," "Pressure" and more), he ranges over the educational map, considering his education, the schooling of his children, and the middle school and college students he has taught in places as varied as Tennessee, Connecticut, Western Australia and Syria. Modest reflection ("I marvel at how superficial and fragmentary my knowledge seems to be") coexists with firm suggestions ("Instead of humiliating a child, you should talk to parents, generally the force pressuring a child to cheat") amid discussions of the practical matters of teaching (handling committee work, dealing with grade pressure, testing, preparing assignments, mentoring). Education controversies are mentioned gently ("The effects of classroom doings are always mysterious, something that should be pounded, intellectually of course, into every legislator in the nation") and sacred cows sometimes tipped ("question the emphasis education puts on writing," he says). Pickering's odd timelessness—his ideas seem simultaneously old-fashioned and up-to-date—and his warm wisdom (and occasional iconoclasm) will please educators and interested lay readers alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

"Read slowly and mull," advises Pickering. From the perspective of 40 years of teaching English, Pickering offers insights on the delicate relationship between teacher and student, the give-and-take that imparts as much knowledge and wisdom to the teacher as to the student. Pickering offers anecdotes of classroom and life experiences that are amusing, poignant, and revelatory. He includes snippets of letters from students, some flattering, some confounding, some critical, all reflecting the impact Pickering has had. As a young teacher at a boy's school in Tennessee, Pickering taught Tom Schulman, who went on to write the screenplay for Dead Poets Society, modeling the John Keating character on Pickering. Although the prolific writer and essayist cautions readers to separate the real-life teacher from the fictitious, his obvious love and enthusiasm for teaching and literature seem to justify the portrayal. Echoing Pickering's advice: read slowly and mull. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Luke Jenson on February 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
I bought this book for a friend who is going was finishing up her Education degree. I read it first, though, because I found the character in Dead Poet's Society to be very inspirational, and I wanted to see what the inspiration for that had to say. I was not blown away-inspired by Pickering's words, but I found them amusing, good-natured, and thoughtful. For instance, when he writes about how "conservative" professors actually are, it was a nice and unique perspective on things, and much appreciated.

I really think it would be a great gift to give someone you know that is looking into becoming a teacher or is graduating soon with a degree in Education.
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