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the missing teacher: a memoir Kindle Edition
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Her account of training into the alternative field of Waldorf schools is very candid. Right from the beginning she shocks the reader with intensely personal anecdotes. The reader sees that Ms. Cox is an introspective person who went through many trials as she took up teaching.
The Waldorf system, sometimes referred to as a cult, is not your standard K-12 curriculum of standardized tests. She was trained in the peculiarities of their own system, which seeks to foster creativity and the spirt. The work was hard, and at times the reader wonders why she preserved. She was thrown into the first grade, and harshly criticized by various coworkers and parents while simultaneously learning to foster her motherly instincts. Any teacher will say it comes with the territory, but to her it seemed particularly harsh. When she lets her guard down, it goes from bad to worse.
Some of the more interesting parts focus on her Thai background and family upbringing, and how that relates to dealing with children and authority figures.
The story is too detailed in some parts. She gives other characters colorful pseudonyms such as Mr. Worm and Mrs. Squirrel, so as not to be identifiable. The children are numbered, #2, #10, and so on. Even in her personal life she calls an ex-boyfriend the unfortunately-labeled Mr. Angry.
Ultimately, she failed. The story is about failure, but it’s also about picking oneself up afterwards and refusing to give up. The fact that she went through the experience actually inspired her to never give up teaching, albeit through different avenues.
Like many first books, it could have been further edited. Sometimes it should have been organized as more of a narrative – though it is nonfiction. Still, memoirs are not easy and the book is a promising first attempt.
A recommended tale for anyone interested in the inner lives of teachers, and anyone who has ever worried they haven’t fit in, whether at work or at life.
I home-schooled my daughter who is now a sophomore in college. A lot of people think that’s cult-like, but I did it because the public schools are lousy and she was bored. Since I work from home, it went well, was easy for me and brought my daughter closer to me. I guess that means I’m not “the missing teacher”! This book exposes the fact that so many parents are divorced from their own children and really have no idea what they are learning or what the relationships are, or ought to be, between student, teacher and parent.
In the last chapter, the author reminisces about her own public schooling in Hawaii. It reminded me of my 8th grade experience at Washington Intermediate in Honolulu so long ago!
This book is a great read both as a memoir and a commentary on the critical subject of child education. The author lives, and teaches, in Thailand now and has an interesting blog at https://lanivcox.wordpress.com/
Lani was a target almost from the beginning. She was too young. She dressed wrong. She was too friendly with her students. She wasn't warm enough. She kept her mouth shut, changed her teaching style, spoke up for herself. Nothing worked.
The fallout from being fired lasted for years. In trying to understand what went wrong, Lani explored how her heritage and early experiences were related to her reactions to the Waldorf experience.
The author has a candid and humorous writing style, sprinkled with word play and metaphors that are fresh and funny. Most important in a memoir, she is brutally honest.