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Teacher Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (January 31, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671617680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671617684
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
It can be foundational for the teaching/learning vocation.
William Courtney Hensel
Probably dated but I am glad someone (a teacher) told me about it and I was able to read it.
Joanne Zinn
Every first grade teacher should teach reading as this teacher does.
Mary E. Feagan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Hard for me to write a short review of this book since I've written a book about Ashton-Warner's contributions to teaching young children.
The point is, Ashton-Warner was a careful observer of the young Maori children she taught. She knew that what she had been trained to do in a college teacher-training program wasn't working, so she really looked to see what the children cared about, and invented ways to teach them based upon their deep interests and respecting their culture, different from her own. She, a left-handed artist, was different from the mainstream, and wanted to be appreciated...and she carried this and other knowledge from her personal life into her teaching. Ashton-Warner wasn't a woman of perfection, but she made a contribution that lasts...This book has changed the lives of many, many teachers -- I know because they have told me.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Janet B. Burton on April 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am a teacher of 18 years who had to read this book in 1977 as part of my college teacher training and would like to share this book with all teachers. It is as relevant for me today with our scripted phonics and literature-rich reading programs as it was then. Sylia Ashton-Warner does more than portray a method and philosophy to teach reading to New Zealand's Maori children--she paints a vivid, dramatic picture of any classroom. The reader can see the combination of her daily, organized lesson plan superimposed with the actual unpredictable, spontaneous, and social nature of children. Sylvia writes in such a perceptive, humorous way that our sympathy goes out to the Maori children who are expected to learn reading, but are expertly led, not forced.

One of her main points was that the contemporary "Dick and Jane" method of teaching reading was too imposing, stagnant, and foreign to inspire success and a love of learning for her Maori students. She created a new system to do the job of bridging the old, illiterate civilization of the Maoris to contemporary New Zealand. Her method became famous. It is fairly simple and has been used since in a multitude of kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms. Children were allowed to give Ms. Ashton-Warner, their teacher, a new word every day. The word was traced, written, practiced, shared, and reviewed the next day. If the word was important enough to the child, it was remembered and therefore called an "organic" word since it came from an important part of the individual child. Children had word cards and every day would locate their own personal word cards amidst the class' collection.

As Ms.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Ellison on May 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
In generally straightforward prose, Sylvia Ashton-Warner describes the success of her "organic" teaching method for five-year-old Maoris, a native people of New Zealand. The idea is as brilliant as it is simple: young children will best remember words that are nearest their hearts.

For young Maoris at the time of Ashton-Warner's writing, these words were not always positive, as many of her students were from troubled backgrounds. Words such as "fear" and "kill" were as popular among them as "kiss" and "love." Ms. Ashton-Warner's infant reading texts were hand-crafted by her for each student's particular needs and interests. After developing an "organic" vocabulary, the Maoris were better able to tackle traditional English elementary texts.

I found a sixth edition of this book in my late father's library. It was required reading for my father's Masters in Education program at Hunter College in New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s. "Teacher" was first published in 1963.

Contemporary readers, especially Americans, may find the style somewhat dated. Towards the end of the book, Ms. Ashton-Warner changes from a conversational format to a diary-like, almost stream-of-consciousness style which is rather confusing. She also uses New Zealand terms such as "pa" and "haka" whose meanings have to be determined with some difficulty from context.

All that said, the message of "Teacher" is as vibrant today as it was when this work was first published. It is as relevant to building cross-cultural bridges as it is to enhancing learning among students of all backgrounds. My father drew upon it in getting reluctant older students to write and read about things that they were truly interested in. "Teacher" provides an important caveat to today's world of standardized testing and rigid pedagogical criteria.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ian D. Buchan on September 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
This text was recommended reading and as a teacher myself, I find it confounding that it was not required reading during my teaching education. She certainly was ahead of her time, but Sylvia Ashton-Warner might still be distancing herself from those standard based minds determined to put children into the molds we have decided are necessary for their own good. How do we get children to see the power of language so that writing and reading have personal meaning that piques a lifelong journey into the love of learning--this book has some incredible seeds that a willing and curious mind might take, study, and find itself using to change the world, and at the very least the landscape of education as we see it today. Read this book if you want children to come alive to learning.
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