Teresa Gibson's Reviews > Under the Muhlberry Tree

Under the Muhlberry Tree by Linda Muhl
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's review
Feb 12, 2010

did not like it
Read from January 29 to February 12, 2010

I must begin with a disclaimer--I am a huge fan of Linda Muhl. She is a well-respected educator who recently retired after teaching for nearly 30 years in the Mesquite Independent School District (Texas). Muhl designed and implemented the Renaissance English classes for gifted and talented high school students in which these students would study with Muhl for 3 years (grades 9-11), working on a different "track" each year: American Literature, World Literature, and Ancient Literature. Within each track, they would also study art, architecture, and music, as well as leadership skills. Muhl also began the Mentorship class at North Mesquite High School, where seniors would choose an occupation, learn all that they could about that occupation, and follow a mentor from their chosen field for one semester, after which, the student would make a final presentation about what they had learned about their chosen career. Both of my children have benefited greatly from Renaissance English and Mentorship and I am thankful that they had the opportunities to learn from these unique instructional methodologies.

I expected much from this book. Not so much Mrs. Muhl's personal story, which she pretty much summarizes near the beginning of the book. I was hoping for an in-depth story about how she came up with the idea for a humanities based English class and how she went about convincing the school administration to go along with her new idea. This is never really addressed in the book, at least not in great detail. She mentions coming up with these ideas and then teaching them, but I wanted to know more--were there any oppositions to her new class? Were there any problems mixing 3 grades together? Did any other English teachers have any animosity toward her for keeping the best and brightest for 3 years at a time? No problems are ever mentioned. Everything and everyone in the book are described in the rosiest terms.

My second gripe with this book is the very poor organization and editing. Mrs. Muhl was an English teacher. This book is full of misspelled words and grammatical errors. At first, I thought she probably dictated the book, as it reads in a conversational style, but at the end of the book, she mentions that she did indeed "write" it and that it was edited by her sister, also an English teacher. Hmmmm. "DeMarque" wrote All Quiet on the Western Front ? "Apartied" occurred in South Africa? And there are times when the words "ever" and "every" are used incorrectly (more than once).
Mrs. Muhl could have used an unbiased editor for this book. It could have been a much better memoir.

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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa That's disappointing. Though I went to Poteet, I certainly heard about the glories of Muhl from some friends that wound up at North. And Poteet had Renaissance English too (though the teacher I had freshman year was a disaster--much better sophomore and junior)
Guess I don't need to add it to my to-read list. . .

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