The Work of Teachers in America: A Social History through Stories

The Work of Teachers in America: A Social History through Stories

The Work of Teachers in America: A Social History through Stories

The Work of Teachers in America: A Social History through Stories

Synopsis

Traces the evolution of the teacher and the profession of teaching from the late 18th century to the present through a range of narrative forms (fiction, memoirs, letters, ethnographies).

Excerpt

This book is a social history of the teaching profession told through the medium of stories. the volume traces the evolution of the teacher and the teacher's work from the early republican period, when teaching was itinerant and short-term, to contemporary times, when the complexities of the teacher's job make it more than full-time work. We believe the volume fills a great void in the literature on teachers and teaching. Although there is considerable statistical research on the history of the profession, far less social history has been written, and no work before this one has documented the profession over time, and from the point of view of the teacher.

The stories in the volume are told through a great range of narrative forms. These include fiction and poetry, journal entries, letters, ethnographic descriptions, and excerpts from novels and autobiographies. As the introduction to the book makes clear, we have chosen to define "story" here in a broad sense, encompassing any narrative that draws the reader into its world in a vivid and emotionally compelling way. Stories of this sort allow the reader to experience firsthand the struggles and successes of many different kinds of teachers, over the course of 200 years. Included are the voices of men and women, Whites, Blacks, and Asian Americans. There are stories about gay teachers and teachers of disabled children. Stories are set in urban, inner-city classrooms, in remote areas of rural America, and in affluent suburbs. Many of the stories are written by the teachers themselves, and take the form of journals or letters. Others are written by former teachers, who have gone on to become professional writers. By viewing 200 years of the teaching profession through this colorful and varied lens, one gains a unique perspective on the field, its continuities and problems.

The Work of Teachers in America is directed to a wide audience. Certainly the book is intended for use in educational foundations courses, including the history of American education, and the sociology of teaching. the volume may be used alone, or along with a traditional textbook, as a collection of primary sources to supplement the students' understanding of a particular historical epic. We also see this work as a useful text in teacher education courses. the vivid focus on classroom life presented in these stories, and the timeless nature of the issues considered here make the volume a lively alternative to a book of case studies. Indeed, we believe that these stories have a richness and complexity unmatched by case studies. Problems of discipline, burnout, parental indifference, and other such . . .

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