Jim's Reviews > Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56

Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire by Rafe Esquith
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's review
Jun 30, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: politics-and-society, non-fiction
Read in June, 2009

A must-read for teachers. Rafe Esquith is a great teacher. Almost all of his students come from families where English is a second, often uncomfortable language. Many, maybe most, of his students' families are poor. Yet, Esquith's middle school students put on Shakespeare plays, of high quality. Sir Ian McKellen has worked with his students.

Esquith is a little tired of movies and books that portray some teachers as empathetic superheroes. He maintains that any teacher can do what he does. He teaches students like fellow humans, expects and receives good behavior and mutual respect. (He regularly takes his classes to New York with only himself as chaperone.)

If you saw the film, Waiting for Superman,you didn't see Mr. Esquith. The movie was about turning teachers into assembly-line workers and students into units of production. Mr. Esquith is all about developing human qualities. He doesn't like the testing mania that has taken over education, but his students tend to do well on those tests.

Mr. Esquith is the kind of teacher you want teaching your kids. He's one of the lowest-paid teacher in his school district. Go figure.

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