Among School Children Hardcover – May 11 1990
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From Publishers Weekly
" Christine Zajac teaches fifth grade in a racially mixed school in a poor district of Holyoke, Mass. . . . Through Kidder's calmly detailed re-creation of Zajac's daily round we come to know her students' fears and inmost strivings; we also share this teacher's frustrations, loneliness and the rush of satisfaction that comes with helping students learn," wrote PW. "A compelling microcosm of what is wrong--and right--with our educational system."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
As a teacher in a small, inner-city, 99% Hispanic school in Chicago, I agree that the issues addressed in this book are real. The students in today's classroom have the same problems as Ms. Zajak's students had in the 80's. This book offers few productive solutions. This book was assigned reading for both my undergraduate and graduate education classes. Most of the students in my graduate classes; many of whom are adults with children of their own, rather than young, recent graduates; felt this book was poorly written, mildly depressing, and written in such a way as too make Ms. Zajak look like a woman on the verge of "teacher burn-out". What parent would want their child to be taught by a woman who has never left her home town for more than one month? Is that an example for her students?
Most of my graduate class agreed that this book is too freely praised, and that another perspective on teaching should be offered in contrast to Kidder's.
Mrs. Zajac, the grade school teacher on whom Kidder focuses his detailed narrative, is what every teacher should be: tough in a loving way, disciplined, self-aware, willing to admit to her own faults (and when she's boring herself and knows she needs to shake up the lesson next time to avoid boring the students), brimming over with ideas. She's a wonder, and the kind of teacher every child should have at least once in their grade school career.
Kidder leaves no stone unturned. We see here not only the joys and sorrows of teaching, but the accumulation of detail that leaves us feeling we understand, from the inside out, what teachers go through in order to get through to their students. We see how "problem students" and "good students" present different challenges, how teachers and administrators deal with each other (and deal with the parents, the superintendent, and the school board), and even such mundane concerns as how to keep the class in Kleenex (they go through about twenty boxes a year). Though the book is over a decade old, it's prescient about some things. The majority of students in Mrs. Zajac's class are Hispanic--a growing truth throughout the United States--so along with the everyday frustrations of every teacher, we see that Mrs. Zajac has an additional workload imposed merely by the presence of a language barrier:
"Horace, are you all done?"
"Then why are you talking to Jorge?"
She turned back around and said to Felipe and Jimmy, "What's the matter with you two? The minute I turn my head, you have to talk?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is an excellent book, realistic, moving, and inspiring. I would highly recommend it to teachers, parents, and even young adult readers. Read morePublished on May 2 2013 by Mary Grace Kosta
I felt like I was in the classroom with Mrs. Zajac. Tracy Kidder describes a real teacher and her students and takes the reader with them through the school year. Read morePublished on July 5 2004 by Diana
In all the talk about education issues these days, it's easy to forget that what's really important is the relationship, the energy, between students and teacher. Read morePublished on May 13 2003 by A Teacher
I chose Among Schoolchildren as a supplemental text for an Introduction to Education class. I had read the book some time ago, and remembered it as being a realistic portrayal of... Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2002
I had to read this book for my Education Class and it was probably one of the best books I have read in a long time! Among Schoolchildren takes a birds eye look into Mrs. Read morePublished on March 30 2002 by AC
I enjoyed reading this book and found it to be beautifully narrated by Kidder. Although written in 1989 I would imagine a lot of the issues addressed in the book are current... Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2002 by Mya Martin-Glenn
As a graduate education student, I read this book for a class and would highly recommend it to anyone considering a career in education or just wanting to know more about our... Read morePublished on March 27 2001
I recently read "Among Schoolchildren" for an assignment at grad school. I have to admit I have never read a book like this. Read morePublished on Dec 23 2000 by alexis