Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: Letters to a Young Teacher

by Jonathan Kozol

Reviewed by Susan Berry

Jonathan Kozol is an educator, activist, and author of more than eleven books. His most popular book, you may remember, was Savage Inequalities, a book that showed the “extremes of wealth and poverty” in our nation’s schools. He is a strong advocate for inner-city children and those who work with them. Kozol has been a teacher and understands daily life in a classroom. He is frustrated with vouchers and inequity among schools. He is especially frustrated with the excessive testing being forced on our students and teachers. He agrees with his good friend, the late Mr. Fred Rogers, that children need “open space and open time.” He contends that the “sacredness he saw in children” has been replaced by concerns like “economic value,” “utility,” and “productivity.”

Kozol worries too about the young men and women becoming teachers. He worries that their energy, enthusiasm, and passion may not last. And he prays that all teachers never lose the joy and tenderness that “brings good people to the task of teaching.” Kozol understands kids and teachers and he shows that support in all the letters he has written to a first-year teacher and has published in this book.

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