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There Are No Shortcuts

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,368 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
Year after year, Rafe Esquith’s fifth-grade students excel. They read passionately, far above their grade level; tackle algebra; and stage Shakespeare so professionally that they often wow the great Shakespearen actor himself, Sir Ian McKellen. Yet Esquith teaches at an L.A. innercity school known as the Jungle, where few of his students speak English at home, and many are ...more
Kindle Edition, 225 pages
Published (first published March 17th 2003)
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Rafe Esquith writes about his experience teaching 5th graders at a school in urban LA he dubs "The Jungle" (aka Hobart Elementary). First the positive: he is dedicated, passionate, optimistic and tireless- all necessary attributes for a successful and inspiring teacher. The book stands on its own detailing the journey from newbie teacher to seasoned professional. For those who are not familiar with the challenges in education, it evenly distributes the responsibility (and blame) for the current ...more
Destinee Sutton
Rafe Esquith is a brilliant teacher and an incredibly hard-working public servant, but despite all that, he comes off as a total (excuse my language) asshole. The vitriol! The narcissism! The disdainful, self-righteous mockery of anyone who doesn't share his talents and beliefs!

This is not what I expected from Mr. Esquith. And, to be fair, in the book he acknowledges that he's not perfect and still strives to be kind to others. I'd like to think that this, his first book, was a kind of exorcism
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
It's suprising how many of these stories I can relate to, or stories that I have penciled in the initials of other teachers in my building.

"I went home too angry to cry, and terrified at the thought of never teaching again. I had spent too much of my life planning to be a teacher and now had to consider the possiblity that because of this stupid incident I might have to do something truly awful like go to law school."

Mr. Esquith is definitely a powerful teacher. He has had to overcome the proble
Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
As a Teacher I appreciate Rafe's message, passion, and dedication. I felt conflict over my decision to merit "There Are No Shortcuts" a mere two star rating. This has more to do with Rafe not finding the right voice as a writer. With all his support, recognition, and awards; I'm certain he translates better in person. Although he had many beautiful things to say, it felt as though he used this script to settle a few vendettas with fellow teachers, administrators, and institutions. This ruined th ...more
Esquith is VERY passionate about his work; with him it's clearly a calling, not just a career. I did notice that he and his wife have no children! There are some great ideas in both of his books, but he presents them as "this is how people should teach" and ignores the fact that not everyone is like him, nor should they be.
Irene McHugh
While I agree with Esquith's theme that all children will succeed if teachers expect that of them, he is high on himself. The man constantly works in his classroom. Yes, he's pushing those children and helping them in ways that their parents either can not or will not. But he's sacrificing time away from his own family, away from friends and other activities that help any human lead a balanced life. While this book may be viewed as inspirational, the underlying message is that the American publi ...more
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
Honestly, Esquith's story was just as discouraging as it was inspiring. Not everyone has the skills, determination, and unique ideas that he has. Many of his solutions and practices, while apparently and understandably effective and amazing, are impractical for all teachers to hope to implement.
The wonderful things he was able to do with his classes, the great opportunities that he provided for his students, and the outstanding young people he encountered are very admirable and fascinating to re
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching-related
There's certainly no question that Rafe Esquith is beyond extraordinary. The plethora of projects and excursions he arranges for his impoverished students is commendable. As a teacher, I found myself both inspired and chagrined by his devotion in the classroom. Yet at the same time I found his sweeping generalizations and judgment bordering on condescending. Esquith suffers from no lack of self-esteem and is quick to point out his achievements. Granted, there's nothing wrong with that, but in hi ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teachers/Future Teachers
Shelves: education
Gave it a four because it is excellent, but took off a mark for slight arrogance. There's no question Mr. Esquith is a genius at what he does, and he seems very aware that he has a tendency toward arrogance (especially in the beginning). I really liked this book and read through it quicker than I would have liked. There were many parts where I COMPLETELY agreed with what he was saying. My mother works in education, I grew up around its inner workings, so I was not surprised by some of the things ...more
Jun 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was definitely not impressed. Rafe Esquith provides some funny stories and memorable quotes, but he represents himself with arrogance and appears totally self-absorbed. It seems that the author feels that he is the magic for the children who he has in his class for one year. All their later successes are due to his influence... no other factors made a difference. I know he is a highly effective teacher and that he truly gives of himself for the sake of his students, but in "There are No Shortc ...more
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teacher-books
There Are No Shortcuts is an extraordinarily good book. As soon as I picked it up and read the first page, I could not put it down until I had finished it. While this was assigned reading for a teaching course, I’ve since read it twice through completely and read certain chapters multiple times. Needless to say, my new book has a rather tattered spine. His style includes a mix of narrations and tidbits of advice. He details his experiences, both good and bad; his mistakes; his triumphs; his rela ...more
Esquith is no doubt a talented teacher. He has a lot of great ideas/principles and this book provides many stories and examples to demonstrate them. His motto is, "There are no shortcuts," and he has many other sound bites of advice throughout the book. His book is written for teachers -- specifically, "young teachers," and I recommend it (not highly) to them.

It's a fast read and it's pretty engaging. However, I found myself often annoyed with Esquith's high-regard for himself. Yes, he's a good
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
certainly makes some good points, but his obnoxious and cocky attitude grates on me. And why do we find 2/3 of the way into the book that he's been teaching GATE kids all along? That bugs me.
Seongkyul Park
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book freshman year of highschool, when I was more vocal about my interest in teaching rather than intl development (the latter would come more forcefully later)... No Shortcuts was the first 'education' book I read and was just as impressionable as any other teacher/education related films/movies/talks I'd watched/heard growin up. Esquith has the same kind of energy, drive, and passion for excellence in youth, especially those coming from the toughest of neighborhoods, in ways that e ...more
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many cult of personality moments, but I guess that is to be expected when you are an award winning teacher. Several accurate insights into how truly challenging teaching can be ..."if you care about what you are doing, it's one of the toughest jobs around." (184)
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skim-reading
This book can be summed up in one sentence. An unrealistic approach to the American educational system written by a workaholic. The book is overly dramatized and romanticized. None of his ideas are original. I got bored about halfway through the book and skimmed read the rest.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though this is the authors first book, I'm glad it wasn't my first introduction to him, otherwise I would probably have never made it to another of his books.

To me, this book felt like an attempt to justify previous actions and also to retaliate against some of his colleagues. Even though he specifically says in the book that its not a revenge book, it very much reads like one.

The author's pompous attitude; which I was able to detect in just the slightest bit in Teach Like Your Hair's on
Rafe’s experiences and practices are inspiring, and it’s wonderful to read about another teacher who realizes what their students need and what teachers can do to help them succeed in life. Teaching well takes effort, but it’s what we want to do, and it is worth it.

Especially inspiring and helpful for me is the message that good teachers will always encounter opposition, which will present itself in a myriad of ways: administration, other teachers, current or former students. But instead of com
372.11092 ESQ
PLAYER 372.11092 ESQ

Peoples mentioned in book
Robert Lee Frost (American poet,highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech)
Maya Angelou (American author and poet)
George Orwell (English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic)
Alex Haley(Alexander Murray Palmer Haley, American writer. He is best known as "Roots: The Saga of an American Family")
Ayn Rand( American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter, two best-s
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was studying to be a teacher many years ago, I came across several books about others' teaching experiences. This was one of the first ones that I came across. When I first read it, I didn't understand much of it, but as I have put some time "on the front lines" (as they say), I would consider this to be one my favorites. Much of it has to do with the fact I feel that I was cast from the same mold as Rafe, and that eventually, I would have become the same sort of teacher. I understand tha ...more
Hayley Swanson
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
While not up to "Teaching Like Your Hair's on Fire," in my opinion (though the books really are quite different), Rafe Esquith does not fail to deliver his inspirational insanity in “There Are No Shortcuts.” I adore Rafe, even though I am pretty sure he’s completely insane, and I don’t agree with him on a lot of things. This book focused primarily on his experiences against the system and against mediocrity while working as a teacher at the Jungle during his first twenty years of teaching.

In “Th
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title says it all. Rafe's lesson in this book is that being less-privileged does not mean under-privileged given that one is willing to work really, really hard. He shows kids what's possible and he never underestimates them. This book also includes lessons he learned about emphasizing character over achievement, and the kind of crap one is likely to get as a teacher, from parents, librarians, principals, and others whom one expects to be pulling for the kids' best interests. The movie Coach ...more
brian dean
This is a remarkable story of one man's dedication to teaching. There is a lot to admire Esquith for, but I can't imagine attempting to imitate his success.

The book is about his teaching and his classes, not his family or private life so likely there is much going on that I don't know about. Still, the man put himself in debt to fund his school projects, going so far as to get one or two night jobs to make money to pay for his class activities.

I am not sure I would want to be his student, either
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2016
You know, after reading this book, I cannot be even slightly surprised that this guy got fired for making inappropriate remarks with the kids. The level of hurt and betrayal he feels when, in "the darkest days of his career" he gets snubbed by a three (view spoiler) female students-- would make a lot more sense if there was an element of physical attraction involved.

His ego is so massive, so pervasive in every page, and his style so ADD rambling, it is really hard to imagine
Bennett Best
Apr 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually knew Rafe when he wasn't a teacher yet, but working as an instructor at a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. He was still a student at UCLA. Even then his passion for learning and his incredible enthusiasm for the Arts was infectious. He was the most memorable person I have ever met in my life as a young adult, and it's great to see that he continues to impact young adults today.

He's an extremely effective teacher due in large measure to his devotion to the premise that a child
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist, teaching
I have now read all three books that Rafe Esquith has written including numerous news articles about him and his classes. I've watched interviews of him on youtube and I've watched the documentary about him and his students, "The Hobart Shakespeareans." Why? I am totally fascinated by this man who is more obsessed with passionate teaching than I am........

How does he do it? I ask myself over and over. Where does his energy come from? Once again, I am amazed at the power of a single individual to
Samantha Pendleton
This novel is about one teacher’s journey through his teaching career. This is a powerful novel for any young future teacher. He shares his experiences at a very poor school in California. Rafe is a young teacher starting out at a very prestigious middle school in California and soon realizes that he wants to make a difference in children’s lives, so when he is offered at a very poor school in the same district Rafe jumped at the chance. At his new job he realizes that it is much different than ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a great introduction to the pitfalls of public education. Good teachers can be the hardest working and lowest paid profession. Rafe Esquith is definitely an example of an involved teacher. I loved his work ethic and the responsibility that he teaches his children. I love how he involves Shakespeare and music into his class. I was a little uncomfortable about his lack of boundaries with his students. His examples of when he overstepped because of his desire to help every child were ...more
Adam Balshan
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
3.5 stars [Education]

This is Esquith's first book, preceding his wonderful Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire. Esquith speaks in moderation on a variety of topics here, and for all his 'rebel' bravado, ends up making several politically correct remarks. Examples include, "English isn't superior to other languages," excluding all religious discussion from his classroom, misdefining racism, and ignorantly citing Thomas Jefferson as an opponent of religion in the public sphere.

Esquith is a great teac
Jun 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers who love touchy-feely
So this book was inspiring, even though it is very touchy-feely and a bit corny at times. "There are no shortcuts" is Rafe's inspirational slogan for his 5th grade English class in inner-city LA and I can't believe he doesn't get laughed out of the building with such a corny slogan.

That being said, he is OBVIOUSLY dedicated to teaching and it is very inspiring to read his struggles and hear of the AMAZING successes of his students. It is also a little overwhelming---he puts in at least an extra
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“To quote the exceptional teacher Marva Collins, "I will is more important than IQ." It is wonderful to have a terrific mind, but it's been my experience that having outstanding intelligence is a very small part of the total package that leads to success and happiness. Discipline, hard work, perserverance, and generosity of spirit are, in the final analysis, far more important.” 39 likes
“I'd like to give every young teacher some good news. Teaching is a very easy job. Administrators will tell you what to do. You'll be given books and told chapters to assign the children. Veteran teachers will show you the correct way to fill out forms and have your classes line up.

And here's some more good news. If you do all of these things badly, they let you keep doing it. You can go home at three o'clock every day. You get about three months off a year. Teaching is a great gig.

However, if you care about what you're doing, it's one of the toughest jobs around.”
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