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The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle Hardcover – August 20, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (August 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708352
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708357
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A poignant portrait painted with skill . . . Read it and weep--and wonder no more about the human dimensions of the achievement gap." -- Gene I. Maeroff, Teachers College, Columbia University, author of Buillding Blocks: Making Children Successful in the Early Years of School

"By turns humorous and haunting, Dan Brown . . . takes the reader on both a compelling and illuminating journey through the American public education system. Unlike many other books on the topic, however, Brown's is not a dry litany of all that is wrong with that system, but rather highlights the personal success-stories" -- Scott Anderson, author of Moonlight Hotel and Triage

"Dan Brown's heartfelt account of the thrills and frustrations of a first-year teacher grips like a novel. A must-read for anyone who has dreamed of a job that makes a difference." -- Anya Kamenetz, author of Generation Debt

"[A] powerful, heart-breaking story that challenges our image of inner city schools and the children who populate them. Important and moving, The Great Expectations School grabs your attention from the first page and refuses to let go." -- Gilbert M. Gaul, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

"[A] riveting human drama full of heroes and villains, humor and tragedy. Brown is an exciting new talent and his writing is so clear and suspenseful that the pages turn themselves. I couldn't put this book down." -- Clara Bingham, co-author of Class Action, basis for the Academy Award-nominated film North Country, and author of Women on the Hill: Challenging the Culture of Congress

Full of funny, painful, and illuminating stories covering the children at risk . . . It is a must read for anyone interested in reforming our schools -- Maggie Dixon, Collegiate School librarian

About the Author

Dan Brown was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He is a student at Teachers College, Columbia University. He lives in New York City. This is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
I recommend this book to anyone who cares about kids.
Elizabeth Camaraza
As a second year New York City Teaching Fellow, I can attest that the stories Dan tells in this book are still stories that we as teachers face every day.
E. Strickland
It really takes hindsight to see everything clearly and I think that is what is so great about Brown's book.
On the road

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Camaraza on August 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm Elizabeth Camaraza, one of the rookies who joined the NYC Teaching Fellows and taught with Dan Brown at PS 85 in the Bronx. His beautifully tragic story expertly captures every nuance of a first year teacher's experience in an inner city school. He tells his story with such a profound sense of love, honesty and humor that you will be emotionally wiped-out after reading it. I recommend this book to anyone who cares about kids. Dan Brown is a genius! (PS. I'm in the book!)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Tremain on July 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After reading Dan Brown's articles and blog entries on The Huffington Post, I had to pick this book up. I wasn't disappointed. While The Huffington Post blog showed me he has a deep understanding and love of teaching and all that it requires, I didn't know that he was funny-- this book changed that. I found myself laughing out loud pretty frequently, which is weird since this is first and foremost a non fiction piece on the trials of being a first year teacher in a NYC public school. But, his voice is so unique that you end up finding humor in the way he views even the simplest of situations.

So the real question is, is this Dan Brown a better writer than Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame? Only time will tell, but the new Dan Brown is off to a fine start.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By GranPus on August 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
At times heart-wrenching and then laugh out loud funny, The Great Expectations School is a sobering look at the current state of public education in America. Brown offers a unique and personalized glimpse into the daily struggle of elementary school with undauntedly heroic teachers, tragic students, and conniving administrators. I recommend this book to anyone who values education and wants to change the system. I also recommend it to those who don't; you will care by the end of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Strickland on November 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a second year New York City Teaching Fellow, I can attest that the stories Dan tells in this book are still stories that we as teachers face every day. From the students living in shelters and floating from address to address to the micro-management of such things as bulletin boards, it's all very much the world in which I live. The book is heartbreaking in its realism ~ but it gives me hope to know that I am not alone.

I definitely second the motion that this become required reading for anyone entering aternative certification programs. It's less Pollyanna-ish than "Ms. Moffett's First Year" which, while somewhat realistic, doesn't really get to the heart of the matter, and more realistic than "Educating Esme", which, unless you ARE Esme, really isn't realistic at all. While I wouldn't change my path into teaching, I wish I'd had someone really tell it like it is before I started as Dan has done here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Schweizer VINE VOICE on June 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
You gotta sing as you kick them, that's the message of the 20th century. The low expectations of the "Great Expectations School" stand out, but the author persuades us that all is not lost. This author goes a long way toward adding some realism back into the great fantasy known as "all children can learn." When you stop laughing at that, let the author's humor take you even further into the nightmare of public education. Wit is one of the first things to go when you enter this profession. Brown's possession of it is the first sign that this guy wasn't born to be a teacher but rather an observer and commentator. So be it, his astute observations bring out the best and the worst of finest prison system known to man, the New York Public Schools.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Neblock on January 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Dan Brown surpasses the similarly named charlatan by the second page of this tender recollection, so enough conversation about how one is not the other, eh? Anyone comparing the two (myself included) is drawing a tenuous, superficial connection. Simply put, it would be a discredit to this Mr. Brown to be associated with that one.

The Great Expectations School is a story from the intersection of reality and idealism. Mr. Brown acts as interlocutor between an impoverished section of society and those too caught up in disbelief or willful refusal to recognize it. Harsh conditions are much easier to stomach when they are limited to 30 seconds on the news.

Mr. Brown is brave to harrow the experience that he reports, but the more courageous act by far is to then report on it, in all of its bleak grandeur. This reader is very thankful that he did.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G. M. Gaul on August 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Great Expectations School really should be required reading for teachers entering, or considering, Teach for America, New York Teaching Fellows, or any other program that places teachers in challenging classroom environments with some of the country's toughest students. Dan Brown's story-telling makes this a simultaneously heart wrenching and entertaining read.
Mr. Brown cleary has a bright future in both education writing (as evidenced in his work on the Huffington Post) and in any other genre that he may tackle. His voice, compassion, insight, and sense of humor have created a book that is a welcome addition to the canon of important works on the great experiment currently going on in our urban schools.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BermudaOnion VINE VOICE on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
After Dan Brown graduated from NYU's film school in 2003, he decided to apply to become New York City Teaching Fellow. The Teaching Fellow program was designed after Teach For America and was started to help cope with the chronic teacher shortage in the toughest schools in the city. After some summer training, Dan was assigned to teach fourth grade at P. S. 85 , which had a sign over it's door proclaiming it to be "The Great Expectations School." This school is located in the poorest Congressional district in the United States. Equipped with a quick wit and love of children, Dan went into the job full of hope and enthusiasm. He ended up with lots of frustration because the administration was not supportive and parents were not involved. His classroom was made up of several bright, eager learners, plus students with problems such as:

* failing three times
* couldn't read their own name
* being raised by grandparents who couldn't speak English
* being locked in a refrigerator for punishment
* having a twin who had a breakdown because he was molested by their 20 year old brother
* having parents who are drug users
* only attending school 1 or 2 days a week

The beginning of the school year was very difficult and when it began to affect Dan's health, his parents urged him to quit. He stuck it out even though must of the students came to class unprepared - without needed supplies or homework - and ended up having some of the highest test scores in the school. After his year at P. S. 85, Dan taught at an exclusive prep school located in another part of the city and the contrasts between the two are striking.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Great Expectations School by Dan Brown. His compassion and enthusiasm are so apparent.
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