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It Won’t Be Easy by Tom Rademacher, foreword by Dave Eggers

c.2017, University of Minnesota Press
$17.95 / higher in Canada
191 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.

Those were the basics you were supposed to have learned at school: how to make sense of groups of letters, how to make those same letters legible, and how to add and subtract numbers. That was how you spent your school days eons ago, but in It Won’t Be Easy by Tom Rademacher, oh, how things have changed.

Seven hours a day. And about nine-and-a-half months.
 

Give or take, that’s roughly how long your local teachers have to teach. In that time, they have “standards” to follow, they have (and know that parents have) expectations, and they must also “give [kids] something useful to understand and remember.” Inside that ponderously messy assignment, says Tom Rademacher, many people forget that school is “unfair” and “unimportant,” and that teaching is “completely full of humans.”

His book is for the older humans: the talented, passionate ones who try to mesh with their peers to give kids the best education they’ll ever get. And it’s for those abrasive jerks who are detrimental to students. Use it, he says, as a handbook or a “book-club book for teachers.”  Let it serve as a good reminder, in the first year of teaching “and probably every year after that… [to] swear to yourself to do no harm.”

Then, know that that’s a vow you’ll break.

Another vow: don’t get caught up in drama – whether it’s student-driven or that “of the adults around you.” It’s an easy trap to fall into, but one you’ll be glad to avoid. Never yell at students or anyone; although you probably will, it’s unnecessary. Use compassion in your classroom and with your fellow teachers, and work hard for those administrators who show you the same. “Read with your kids,” to validate their interests and build trust. Never say “because we’re supposed to”; everybody knows that’s a lame answer and it won’t work with kids today. Finally, know that “Teaching is just really hard” and though “You asked for this… you’re not alone.”

Here’s a book every parent of every school-age child should read.

Here’s a book every teacher in every school should read.

In both cases, It Won’t Be Easy offers another side of the education-coin. For parents, this behind-the-scenes gives you a peek at what may go on in the faculty lounge at your child’s school. It’s not for the faint of heart; Rademacher is profane and provocative, but you’ll end up hoping your child’s teacher is more like him.

Rademacher, however, will resonate most with his fellow teachers.

He writes of clashing personalities, finding the best co-workers, and failing the kids. He mentions irritations and what fixed them, he writes of good ideas and bad, and he pokes holes in “standards” and new-teacher training. He’s funny, and he’s eye-opening.

In his introduction, Rademacher says his tales may give teachers “yet another excuse to drink.”  He also gives parents an understanding of why they might. And that’s why both will want this book: because It Won’t Be Easy altogether adds up right.

   
   


Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/10/17 21:24:25 -0700.


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