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Book Review of Up the Down Staircase

Up the Down Staircase
Up the Down Staircase
Author: Bel Kaufman
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Hardcover
hoopridge avatar reviewed on + 251 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


When I started teaching, it was in an inner-city school much like the one Sylvia starts in. The kids were like hers: troubled, unruly, hopelessly starved for attention. Like Sylvia, I almost gave up as I struggled for supplies, books, time to plan, and parents' participation in their students' lives.

This book makes me sad in a way, since I can too closely relate to Sylvia, who finds out about a student's death via inner-school memo, begs the principal to get the custodian to close the windows in her classroom in the winter, and spends much too much of her own money on her classroom needs. BUT, I'm also hopeful as I read this, since Sylvia decides to stick it out in her difficult situation and learns how to be a better teacher through all the struggles.

The book is told through memos, letters, and a few snatches of conversation, making it an interesting read. I recommend this to beginning teachers, seasoned vets, and anyone who wants to know how it really is in the classroom. Though it was written in the 1960s, not much has changed.


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