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Teaching Life: Letters from a Life in Literature Hardcover – April 1, 2008
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“Dale Salwak has written a profoundly thoughtful and moving meditation on the joys and sorrows of the teaching profession. This book should interest all who teach and all who have had the privilege of learning from a caring teacher.”—John Halperin, University of San Diego
“Teaching Life is a fascinating blend of practical advice on teaching, moral inquiry, and personal experience. Its focus moves from the obligation to return exams promptly, to Christianity and Judaism, to Kingsley Amis, to experiencing a parent’s death. The unusual range of subjects makes Salwak’s book by turns instructive, inspiring, and poignant.”—Kenneth Silverman, professor emeritus of English, New York University
“In this remarkable book, Dale Salwak masterfully distills the lessons of thirty-five years of college teaching, weaving them together with illustrative episodes from literature and life. It should be required reading for anyone embarking on a teaching career—and many veterans would surely benefit as well.”—John McLaughlin, senior fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency
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Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed each and every single chapter in this book, from the interesting classroom anecdotes to the sad and reflective moment that the death of a father represents. However, I think that for people like me, whose journey into the wonderful profession of teaching has just began, the chapter about "Transition" is a must read because it explains in detail the challengeable "transition from feeling like a student to living fully as a scholar-teacher." The book also covers other important subjects for early teachers, such as the art of lecturing, reading, and, the most important (I think), how to connect with students.
I would definitely recommend this book not only to anyone in the teaching profession but to everyone who wants to learn more about life from this wonderful professor and person: Dr. Salwak. As his former student, he has changed my life in ways that I would never imagine and I am pretty sure that anyone who could have the chance of reading this book will certainly agree with me that his knowledge and wisdom are without comparison.
Bravo: In TEACHING LIFE: LETTERS FROM A LIFE IN LITERATURE, each letter to Kelly addresses a different aspect of education, literature and life. How did you decide which topics to address? How do you think the book's organization of these topics affects the reader?
Salwak: The topics suggested themselves to me as I moved ever deeper into the project. I knew I had to write "When a Parent Dies," for example, because the day after my father's funeral I returned to my class to discuss "Hamlet" and saw my father sitting in the back of the room. The chapter on "Marriage" suggested itself because I was struck by how many of my colleagues across the country wrestle with balancing the academics with family life. Many questions emerged over the years from discussions with my parents, both educators, as well as from my students. Overall I answer questions that many teachers (and students) ask of themselves and that I continue to ask of myself.
Bravo: Why did you choose to format the book as a series of letters?
Salwak: To avoid the risk of coming across as "preachy" or dogmatic. That's not my style. Writing letters "to" a former student was an indirect way of reaching my potential reader. Also, this format helped me to establish a warm, personal tone that is the voice I try to maintain in the classroom. I am speaking to teachers, yes, but I am also speaking to students as well as to the general public - and I don't want to alienate them.
Bravo: In the book's summary it says that "'Teaching Life" is an effort to impart lessons to the next generation
of teachers.Read more ›
As a classroom teacher for over 20 years, I deeply appreciated this book. Dr. Salwak's perspective and insights gave me a new look at teaching. The advice to any educator and the interplay between instructor and student are thoroughly enlightening. His light touch on the role of pedagogy in education during a time of increased concern over test scores portrays many of the highs and lows involved in teaching. Many K-12 school districts adopt curriculum where all teachers must be on the same page on the same day regardless of their class's composition or achievement. Such an approach is anathema to instilling the love of learning that is portrayed in this book.
Dr. Salwak is an antidote to the factory worker approach to teaching. His passion for education and his passionate reflections on teaching should be required reading for all policy makers who shape education. The letters addressed to Kelly also include good advice for students and their families. His love of reading is a great model for his students and all of us.
Letters from a Life in Literature is a must read for anyone who loves books, values education, or is involved in learning. Dr. Salwak is a shining example of the "lifelong learner" so many schools and college want to produce. This book is a real treat.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After having been a college Professor for over 16 years myself, I thought I knew all (or at least most) there is to know about my profession. Dr. Read morePublished on May 2, 2008 by A. Afzali
In "Teaching Life: Letters From a Life in Literature," Dr. Dale Salwak writes of what it can be like to immerse one's self into a book. Read morePublished on April 7, 2008 by Samantha Bravo