Teacher in America Author:Jacques Barzun The hardest yet most refreshing part about reading this book is that I am 25. One can easily pick up the urgency in Barzun's words and doubtless he was critiquing the educational modifications of the time- originally published in the 40's. Since that time, every school has become the 'progressive' school that Barzun warns against- A furthering o... more »f Deweyan principles of 'It's not learning if it ain't fun' and 'true understanding is in the heart, not the head.' In an effort to make education fun and push students through at all costs, we've lost any sense of the teacher's true goal- to instruct.
I should not give the false impression that Barzun is a hard nosed, humorless curmudgeon who would turn back the clock to monotanous recitation and rote-memorization. The truth is that he is somewhere in the middle. Before the job can be done correctly, the teacher needs to gain the students willful attention and her trust. At that point though, the student NEEDS to be challenged- the student will be pushed to learn (yes, memorization may be involved), grades will be imposed and the student will- it's true-come out the better for it.
The best part is that while Barzun jabs at administrators and theorists (can't we all relate) he writes with obvious love for teachers and students, always keeping their interests in mind. While Barzun can come off as a sourpuss when poking fun at the circular Ph.D system and standardized testing, he is easily forgiven when discoursing on how and how not to teach mathematics, history, arts, literature, the sciences and writing. I only wish he would've been one of my instructors.
The only other thing I can say is that while for teachers, this book is a MUST HAVE, for students (of all ages and abilities) this book is a hidden treasure. Barzun, while giving advice to teachers and administrators, inadvertently (?) gives us tips on how to learn and more saliently, how to think. I'm confident that I will reread this many times throughout my lifetime. Bravo!!!« less