Saturday, July 11, 2009

How to Survive in your Native Land

James Herndon: How to Survive in your Native Land (originally published in 1971)

I saw Doug Noon quote some James Herndon. This reminded me that Brian Harvey (great papers here) had recommended this book as one of the great descriptions of our education dilemmas. Visit the amazon link and read the reviews and this is confirmed.
[This book] is a literary treasure, simultaneously a Beat novel, a great feat of storytelling, and a storehouse of educational wisdom. Herndon shows us, with great wit and good spirits, how good education can emerge in the most unexpected circumstances and how caring teachers can transform lives.
–Herbert Kohl
The beauty of Herndon's work is that he is both a wonderful writer (he is featured as one of the better writers of nonfiction in William Zinsser's classic _On Writing Well_) and an astute observer of his own and his children's actions. How to Survive presents him at his finest, discussing not how to teach (he almost never does this) but what teaching and learning are like. He does this with humor, honesty, and an edge. No teacher, reading this book, can come away without a more thoughtful consideration of his or her own teaching. It is stunning and does not deserve to have been forgotten in the way that it has.
- Brian G Fay

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