Synopses & Reviews
Sam Pickering has been teaching, guiding, performing, and inspiring for over forty years. As a young English teacher at a boys' school in Tennessee, his musings on literature touched the student who later wrote the screenplay for Dead Poets Society. Since then, his widely published essays and speeches have established him as a thinker with a unique way of finding enlightenment in the quotidian. During a time when discussions about education focus on issues such as testing and funding, Letters to a Teacher reminds us of the art and joy of teaching. In ten eloquent, conversational essays addressed to teachers of all types, Pickering shares compelling, funny, always elucidating anecdotes from a lifetime in the classrooms of schools and universities. His priceless, homespun observations touch on topics such as competition, curiosity, enthusiasm, and truth, and are leavened throughout with stories-whether from the family breakfast table, his revelatory nature walks, or his time teaching in Australia and Syria. Letters to a Teacher is an irresistible invitation into the hearts and minds of an extraordinary educator and his students, and an indispensable learning tool for new and old teachers alike.
"Pickering, an English professor at the University of Connecticut and personal essayist (Waltzing the Magpies; The Best of Pickering; etc.), serves up pedagogical advice couched in folksy language and peppered with personal anecdotes, tall tales and family stories. In 10 letters (on 'The Good Teacher,' 'Truth,' 'Pressure' and more), he ranges over the educational map, considering his education, the schooling of his children, and the middle school and college students he has taught in places as varied as Tennessee, Connecticut, Western Australia and Syria. Modest reflection ('I marvel at how superficial and fragmentary my knowledge seems to be') coexists with firm suggestions ('Instead of humiliating a child, you should talk to parents, generally the force pressuring a child to cheat') amid discussions of the practical matters of teaching (handling committee work, dealing with grade pressure, testing, preparing assignments, mentoring). Education controversies are mentioned gently ('The effects of classroom doings are always mysterious, something that should be pounded, intellectually of course, into every legislator in the nation') and sacred cows sometimes tipped ('question the emphasis education puts on writing,' he says). Pickering's odd timelessness his ideas seem simultaneously old-fashioned and up-to-date and his warm wisdom (and occasional iconoclasm) will please educators and interested lay readers alike. Agent, Nat Sobel." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
An English teacher at a boys' school in Tennessee, Pickering was the inspiration for the film "Dead Poets Society." In ten eloquent essays addressed to teachers of all types, Pickering shares compelling, funny, always elucidating anecdotes from his more than 40 years in the classroom.