Sunday, July 09, 2006

Teacher Man vs. The Whistling Season

I was completely unimpressed by Frank McCourt's TEACHER MAN. The only saving grace was that I listened to it, and got to hear his wonderful Irish brogue.

Now, if you want a great story that also gives insight into the making of an inspired (and inspirational) teacher, read THE WHISTLING SEASON by Ivan Doig. It's set in 1957 and the state superintendent of schools in Montana is faced with having to close all the state's one room schools because of Sputnik. He himself is a product of a Montana one room school, and the book is an extended meditation on one formative year in his life and the teacher who made so much of a difference to him and his family. (That's a huge exaggeration, but you'll have to read it to find out.) Doig is a master story teller -- there's an interesting plot turn on page 327 -- and gifted in his use of language and creation of characters. Plus, you can read it with a teacher's eye and find differentiation, discipline strategies, integration, state standards, school board politics, and playground subcultures. You'll get a refresher/beginner's course in Latin, as well.

2 comments:

  1. Here's something cosmic. First time I've visited (or known about) your blog. You write about the book I just finished!
    The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig.
    And I was sitting here wondering whether other people have discovered this book yet. I agree completely with your review. I loved the language, loved this TEACHER!, loved the characters. But then, I love most books by Ivan Doig, especially Dancing at the Rascal Fair.

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  2. About the teacher -- I so wanted to put him on our list of cool teachers, but alas, he's not in children's literature. He seems to me to be equivalent to Kate Barlow in HOLES by Louis Sachar: who cares if they turn out to be criminals, they are great teachers!

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