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Teacher: The One Who Made the Difference

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  152 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
In 1969, Mark Edmundson was a typical high school senior in working-class Medford, Massachusetts. He loved football, disdained schoolwork, and seemed headed for a factory job in his hometown—until a maverick philosophy teacher turned his life around.

When Frank Lears, a small, nervous man wearing a moth-eaten suit, arrived at Medford fresh from Harvard University, his stude
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 9th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Jul 02, 2007 Sean rated it liked it
Shelves: education
As a teacher, I came to this book looking for tips, looking for insight into how to be "the one that made a difference." Edmundson says that there are two kinds of great teachers: ironists, like Socrates, who ask rather than lecture, who admit that they do not know, rather than insist that they do. Their agenda is not to convince the student of a particular view, but to convince the student to live thoughtfully, mindfully, and honestly by his own lights; and truth-tellers, like Freud and Jesus, ...more
Alli Poirot
Feb 17, 2013 Alli Poirot rated it liked it
Recommended to me by the headmaster of the new school where I will be teaching starting in August. There are some interesting connections here-- the author grew up in Malden and Medford, just one town over from where I live and have lived for the past 9+ years; he also went to Bennington. Me too.

The book is a memoir about the author's experience of a philosophy class taught by an inspiring, but mostly very alien and nonconformist teacher in his senior year at Medford High School.

I have to say,
Sandy Anderson
Apr 08, 2016 Sandy Anderson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have heard Professor Edmundson speak several times with pleasure and read another of his books "Why Read?". As a retired teacher myself, I'm always drawn to books about teaching, teachers and learning. This one surprised me. The title seems quite clear but the book is more an account of a less than inspiring working class high school, a working class family and a senior with little love for learning and few dreams for his future living in the late 60s in the U.S. where accepted values were bei ...more
Aug 11, 2008 Ellen rated it liked it
Recommended to Ellen by: Steve
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. At first I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more about the teacher that Edmundson sets out to honor, and it took me a while to get into the book. But in the end, I really got absorbed. I like books that are set in the 60's, and I like to read different points of view about the war and the protesters and the hippies. This was a pretty good memoir of that time (as judged by me, who wasn't even born then) - what it was like to be a normal, slightly confused, most ...more
Jul 12, 2010 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: senior-year
This book was great inspiration for anyone who wants to become a teacher (espeically if you're male) because for once, the book connected to the reader. Granted it takes place during the late 1960s and early 1970s so we cannot relate to the problems in society but the reader can connect with the author in the experiences that he has. Also, Franklin Lears (the teacher) is one of the most influential people and one of the best literary characters. He makes the kids think for themselves by using of ...more
May 27, 2015 Ali rated it liked it
I enjoyed another book by Edmundson called Why Read, which gives an indepth perspective on what he believes about teaching, reading, and our culture: we need to live out the truth of literature. Teacher was very different because it is written as a memoir rather than as an academic essay. I found it difficult at times to maintain my commitment to it; it is slow and Edmundson does not discuss Frank Lears as much as I thought he would. Edmundson is more interested in portraying the change which he ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Mary rated it did not like it
Shelves: purely-academic
Up front: I highly disliked this book.

To be fair in general I don't enjoy memoirs, but this one seemed particularly tedious.

I found the story rambling weighed down by tedious details and superfluous metaphors. While many of them were interesting, when there are a dozen within a page it becomes harder to appreciate them.

As someone training to be a teacher, I did not find this inspiring or educational but terribly depressing. As a student, I found this to be a poor example of high school even t
Jul 23, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
I went into reading this book as others did, as evidenced by the message board, I wanted to find some tips about teaching. Although I did learn a lot and loved to learn about Mr. Lears I thought that the book was kind of misleading. Hidden, and not very well at that, is the author's desire to write a memoir about himself in that year entirely separate from the classroom. Unfortunately, this mix didn't benefit the book- but the rest, the in between was great.
Feb 20, 2009 Ellyn rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2006
The author grew up in the 1960s in working class Medford, Massachusetts, and this memoir is about the high school philosophy teacher that inspired him and changed his life forever. I liked the overall message, but the writing is not very good. The author rambles A LOT, and the book moves very slowly as a result. I had trouble getting through it.
Mar 11, 2010 Erin rated it it was ok
I have to concur with most people's assessment of this book: I get the need to describe things in vivid detail, but this is too much to slog through. For being titled "Teacher" there wasn't enough about the actual teacher for me. As the story took place in "Meff'ahd" MA, I had moments of recognition and "hey, I know that place!" But without that, this book is a total pass.
Marjory Munson
Nov 08, 2013 Marjory Munson rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much, but didn't feel that I learned much from it - maybe because I already knew from my own experience that students often learn more when they are not nailed to their seats.
Jan 28, 2008 richard rated it liked it
Recommends it for: carly
Good book. It's a memior about the author (now professor) as a high school senior who was going nowhere before his philosophy teacher came to teach. About both of them. Very real picture of teenage boys in the 1960s - pretty funny actually. Very inspiring story about what a teacher can do.
Esme Lorraine
Jul 23, 2011 Esme Lorraine rated it did not like it
I just could not finish this book. I would not recommend it. He writes like he wants to prove to everyone he is an English teacher, words that are rarely heard are used frequently in the book. Just not my style.
Hans Guttmann
Nov 14, 2012 Hans Guttmann rated it it was amazing
Mark taught at my boarding school. He seemed quite intellectual at the time. He had an alternative bent as we all did. This being the case, it was surprising to hear about the background he came from, that of the dreaded jock culture. An interesting story and well told.
Jul 09, 2010 Moses rated it really liked it
Teacher's guidance to help students learn how to separate themselves from 'groupthink' and choose to chart their own paths and adventures in life.
Oct 26, 2008 Therese rated it liked it
A memoir by a guy who is an English professor--and a tribute to the high school teacher who influenced his life.
Mar 05, 2010 Kathleenmanley rated it liked it
I liked this book as far as it had to do with the teacher and the classroom and even how the author was influenced, but it seemed more like a memoir of the author's high school years.
Dec 26, 2012 Tim rated it liked it
Dece. Part academic essay, part memoir. Parts didn't always mesh for me, but Edmundson's vision for a successful, power-subverting, teacher saw me through.
Sarah Zerwin
Sarah Zerwin rated it really liked it
Mar 16, 2014
Kathleen rated it liked it
Jan 24, 2010
Mik Branchaud
Mik Branchaud rated it it was ok
Oct 13, 2012
Chelsea rated it it was ok
May 28, 2016
Matt rated it liked it
Jun 23, 2014
Seth McNew
Seth McNew rated it it was amazing
Jun 15, 2014
Rhonda Cooper Russell
Rhonda Cooper Russell rated it really liked it
Apr 04, 2012
Larry rated it really liked it
Oct 04, 2009
Tim Hallemeier
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Ted rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2007
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