Much has changed since then—a former student is his principal, standardized testing is the reigning god, and smoking in the boys’ room has been supplanted by texting in the boys’ room. More familiar are the effects of poverty, the exuberance of youth, and the staggering workload that technology has done as much to increase as to lighten. Telling the story of Keizer's year in the classroom, Getting Schooled takes us everywhere a teacher might go: from field trips to school plays to town meetings, from a kid's eureka moment to a parent's dark night of the soul.
At once fiercely critical and deeply contemplative, Keizer exposes the obstacles that teachers face daily—and along the way takes aim at some cherished cant: that public education is doomed, that the heroic teacher is the cure for all that ails education, that educational reform can serve as a cheap substitute for societal reformation.
Angry, humorous, and always hopeful, Getting Schooled is as good an argument as we are likely to hear for a substantive reassessment of our schools and those who struggle in them.
You go back, Jack, do it again.
In the fall of 2010, after a fourteen-year hiatus from the classroom and at the unpropitious age of fifty-seven, I began a one-year job filling in for a teacher on leave from the same rural Vermont high school that I’d entered as a rookie thirty years before. I signed on mainly because my wife and I needed the health insurance. The reason I trained to be an English teacher in the first place was my parents’ insistence that I graduate from college with a trade, "poet" falling short of the mark in their
"So much of what Keizer experienced in rural Vermont resonated with my own urban experiences. Every teacher will immediately recognize and enjoy his story. And all who wonder what reforms are needed should start by reading this book."
—Deborah Meier, author of The Power of Their Ideas and In Schools We Trust
As thoughtful, honest, eloquent, humane, entertaining and useful an account of the complexities of teaching as anything I have seen in years. Though Garret Keizer has wowed us in the past, this is, for my money, his best book. It deserves to become a classic in the literature of American education.
—Phillip Lopate, author of Being With Children
"One of the most vital, beautiful, and human documents I have come across in years, from the finest essayist writing today—a book about the true depths of ordinary days and all that is at stake within our schools. But also about work and youth and advancing age, about resistance and pride and defeat and wit and good intentions. In short, everything, brilliantly knitted into the diary of a schoolteacher in a small northern town."
—Jeff Sharlet, author of Sweet Heaven When I Die
"At once a sympathetic portrait of a school, a searing indictment of a culture that uses working-class children as cannon fodder, and, unexpectedly, a page-turner . . . Jonathan Kozol fans will have a new favorite."
—Publishers Weekly, (starred review)
"Magnificent . . . The book’s chief appeal is an overarching surfeit of wisdom and keen perspective . . . Required reading for anyone even remotely involved in education and those who love them."
—Library Journal, (starred review)
"Keizer is a sometimes-sardonic, sometimes-maudlin, always entertaining guide to contemporary high school atmospherics . . . A well-written, yearlong chronicle packed with humor, pathos and valued insights on nearly every page."
—Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)