30 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This is a night at the ballgame you don't want to miss.
"Lighting Their Fires" is not a prescriptive, I've-got-the-answers book. Instead, it's a precious opportunity to spend some time at a baseball game with five really remarkable young people, as teacher Rafe Esquith was fortunate enough to do last year in Dodgers Stadium. If you don't learn something from these five kids while reading this book, then you are a Scrooge indeed and perhaps in need of a midnight visit from the Ghost of Education Future, pointing a gnarled finger towards quite a few children being "left behind" if we keep going the way we're headed.
Rafe Esquith is onto something here. "Lighting Their Fires," like "There Are No Shortcuts" and "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" before it, is a gentle but firm wakeup call, reminding us, in a phrase he used often in his previous books, "I think we can do even better."
Where we can do better, Esquith says, is in helping our children ("ours" as teachers or as parents) become extraordinary -- not in their brilliance or test scores, though those have their place, but in their ability to develop their own code of conduct and then live it in a way that benefits everyone around them, from family members to classmates to strangers to even, thank goodness, their bearded and vest-and-tie-wearing teacher.
What Rafe and his students have discovered over the past 24 years in Room 56 at Hobart Elementary, it seems to me, is a new entryway into the ancient wisdom that great education is all about making us better people, not better test-takers. The energy and commitment level that is unleashed in these kids when they discover the joy of being selfless is a remarkable thing to behold. In some cases it qualifies as heroic, especially in the face of adversity that most of us have never imagined.
This is a great book because it tells the truth. Rafe is saying that our culture, the stuff our children absorb countless times each day, is making it harder, not easier, to raise and teach children to become good citizens, good friends, good people. As a parent and teacher, I have to agree. All the folks screaming at elected officials at "town hall" meetings could benefit from a few weeks in Rafe's class. It's a place where the American dream is a practical, living reality, earned with hard work, patience, and thousands of hours of practice. And it's a dream rooted in a fundamental decency and concern for others.
I've spent some precious time as a guest in Rafe's classroom, and had the privilege of briefly meeting the five children seen leaping for joy on the cover of "Lighting Their Fires." I watched them and the other Hobart Shakespeareans work math problems, play baseball, read aloud "Huckleberry Finn," and perform Shakespeare and rock and roll and rollicking dance numbers. More impressively, I also remember some of these same students, and others, quickly offering me bottled water every time I entered their classroom. And I marveled at the humility and patience they demonstrated as they quietly watched their classmates rehearse for hours on end, long after all the other Hobart students had gone home. They are the real thing.
Watching these children, I could only wish for the same experience for my children; not, I realize now (thanks to this book) the experience of the "getting to do all this great stuff," but the living experience of being a kid who has decided to think of others first and, through that generosity, chosen to aim for excellence. Alas, my two kids cannot be Hobart Shakespeareans, cannot have Rafe as their classroom teacher. But like all true teachers, he is ready to share what he has learned with anyone who will make the effort to listen. This book is just another way of doing that. So check it out, spend some time at Dodgers Stadium with Rafe and the students, and see what you find yourself thinking about as you drive home after the ballgame, late at night, pondering what really matters in this life and what you want people to say about you when you're gone.
I can promise you'll be thinking about more than the final score.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
...older books instead.
Having just read Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire and loved it, and There Are No Shortcuts and liked it, I expected more from this book in support of its subtitle, Raising Extraordinary Children. Instead, it's more about Esquith's extraordinarily effective teaching methods than about parenting. He does provide some suggestions, like: have your children write thank you cards, have them help with meals, teach them to be honest and humble. But: Hitting a Home Run: Teaching Techniques that Transcribe to Parenting might have been a better title. He starts out with a brief explanation of what he is and does--a teacher of over 24 years at Hobart Elementary School in the LA School District where he typically teaches poor, ESL learner 5th graders. In spite of that fact, he is able to help his students achieve a level of academic excellence above and beyond what those who ascribe to the idea that impoverished kids whose primary language isn't English can't achieve at the same level as their richer, English as a first language peers.
Because of his love of the sport, he recounts a particularly negative experience he and a group of his students had while attending a Red Sox game as the backdrop of the book, a sort of metaphor for "concepts that help children build character and develop enriching lives." If you know anything about Esquith, you know that the trip was nothing like your typical take-me-out-to-the-ball-game one might expect for 10 and 11 year olds, more like a lesson about life. *Note: the rest of this paragraph contains spoilers.* They arrive on time (note from RE: teach your kids the importance of time) to a nearly empty section and his students behave well, as expected. His charges must pay particularly close attention because they've learned to take stats and will do so during the entire 9 inning game lasting late into the night. Soon a group of adults arrives with a small electronic-game toting child in tow (note from RE: don't let your kids have too much screen TV/computer time as it makes them less smart). Kid waves flag bought to replace broken game and unintentionally but repeatedly smacks one of Esquith's students with it. The adults' reaction to the teacher's request to ask the child to stop is no surprise; dad belts out a slew of curse words, showing everyone that those who show up late (I guess) are the same inconsiderates who will swear indiscriminately at youngsters. Later, he runs into a fellow teacher who apologizes for the man's bad behavior. And, of course, this man (everyone but Esquith and his students seem to think he must have some ulterior motive for his dedication) quizzes him about his showing up after hours with this group of kids, unwilling to accept that he does so for selfless reasons. The book proceeds with more about the game (the score, the inconconsiderate folks who defy the rules and throw around beach balls) contrasted with his kids' great behavior. Beyond the basics, there is less about parenting, more about teaching (especially about his word renown Hobart Shakespearean group and its fans). All I could think of as I read his recounting of the horrible experience they had at the baseball game was that it seemed odd: in all his years of chaperoning students to watch the Red Sox, he chose what was probably the worst of all instead of, say, providing a balanced view (for example, contrasting the lowlights of negative experience with the highlights of a positive one).
Although there is some helpful information in this book about building good character in and teaching children, I much preferred Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire because it is more specific. Also, the third time around I was less enthralled with his standard recipe for writing (though not his teaching accomplishments): talk about teaching techniques, explain what you've learned as a teacher, write about your students and your expectations for them, add some quotes from your favorite books and authors, provide a few positive and negative anecdotes about your current and former students and adults with whom you come in contact, than I was when it was still new to me. In summary, Esquith's latest, with its misleading title, similar style and content to his previous two books, and overwhelmingly negative baseball game metaphor, is better left unread. Recommended instead: There Are No Shortcuts and Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire. Also good: The Hobart Shakespeareans a film by Mel Stuart.