Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Confessions of a Bad Teacher

Confessions of a Bad Teacher: the Shocking Truth from the Front Lines of American Public Education
by John Owens
Sourcebooks, 2013. 244 pages. Nonfiction.

When John Owens left a lucrative publishing career to teach English in New York City's public schools, he didn't realize how authoritarian public schools had become. Branded a "bad" teacher after one year of teaching at a low-achieving school in the Bronx, Owens was forced to leave students who loved his class and return to the publishing industry for not falling in line with the often contradictory dictates of the school administration. This book gives his first-hand look at American education, the good teachers who are being ousted by a bad system, and some ways that public schools can again achieve educational success.

Owens is a natural storyteller and is able to describe the workings of his high school with extraordinary and often disturbing clarity. His final chapter, where he outlines his recommendations to improve education in America, is very well thought out and shows a lot of passion for his topic. Readers would do well to remember - and Owens is quick to point out - that he is talking only about one school and one specific school system. The things he is describing may not happen in their particulars in every school in the nation. But the overarching concern Owens has is to have society more involved in the American educational process and removing a lot of the bureaucracy that is currently hindering educational success across the board. Over all, a very interesting and informative read.


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