Short Thoughts Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder, A Richard Todd Book HOUGHTON MIFFLIN CO 1989, 340 pages, purchased at a library used book sale, Twenty in Ten Challenge, Personal Deliberate Challenge 2010
Another amazing project by Kidder. If you aren’t familiar with his work, he inserts himself into a situation or a person’s life and yet somehow stays invisible. This time, the reader spends a year in a 5th grade classroom. We get to know the feelings, aspirations and challenges faced by the teacher. We explore the demographics of the community and the town’s history.
Kidder gives a light touch to what is taught in 5th grade and explores concepts of the educational process through the ages. Being aware that this was written in the late 80s in Massachusetts and my limited experience of currently working in a Massachusetts’ school, I was intrigued by the handling of discipline and evaluating student’s special needs.
But my favorite part of the narrative is how we are introduced to many of the players in this drama including a few of the students. One of the reasons that Kidder remains one of my favorite authors is his skill to get thoroughly involved. He was able to gain intimate access to families and the children. He was given such proximity to the teacher and her thoughts. She is presented as very dedicated and caring.
I wonder about her now. I wonder about how her life now and how her career might have changed since the publication of this book. I googled her but didn’t find much and didn’t try too hard. I would assume she probably prefers me not to wonder! so I respect that. But I hope she is doing well.
I had hoped to write a quick short blurb on this as a kind of mini-review but then I read Eva’s… So, for more in less words, please click over to the review by our Impressively Well-Read EVA of A Striped Armchair.
Copley noticed a connection between this read and the one prior; THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE. The prior book was The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman which describes the Hmong challenges of coming to America and this book goes in depth to discuss the immigration experience of Puerto Ricans who have settled in Mt Holyoke MA.