Book Review: Teacher Misery by Jane Morris




NetGalley Synopsis:

Teacher Misery perfectly encapsulates the comical misery that has become the teaching profession. Morris’ strange, funny, and sometimes unbelievable teaching experiences are told through a collection of short stories, essays and artifacts including real emails from parents, students and administrators. From the parents who blame their son’s act of arson on the teacher for causing him low self-esteem, to the student who offers to teach the teacher how to sell drugs so she can pay her bills, to the administrator whose best advice is to “treat kids like sacks of shit,” one story is more shocking than the next. An important read for teachers and non-teachers alike– Teacher Misery paints an amusing and thoroughly entertaining picture of what has become of our education system, without detracting from the overall point that what teachers have to put up with today is complete, utter, unacceptable insanity.

If you feel like being completely entertained while also losing all hope for the American school system, read this book.

I could not put this book down.  The stories that Morris tells about the school system are riveting.  The antics and violence and outright stupidity that she and other teachers have had to endure are outright insane — some of it is so crazy it’s almost unbelievable.  If I did not know many public school teachers personally, I would be inclined to believe some of her stories are embellished.  But while I was fortunate enough to escape the atrocity that is public school, I’ve heard enough to know that this is all real.

In a lot of ways, this is such a depressing book.  We all know that our school system needs some vast improvements, but this book is a down-and-dirty look at all the ridiculous ways it needs help.  While many of the stories and episodes are hilarious, the fact that these stories actually happened is really a cause for concern.  Teacher Misery simultaneously makes me feel hopeless about our school system and gives me so much more respect and appreciation for every teacher I know.

Teaching is hard.  I think it is one of the most difficult professions a person can choose, right alongside going to war — seriously.  Not only do teachers have to pursue extensive training, but they also have to deal with ridiculous or unenforced policies, parents who refuse to discipline their children, and students who are blatantly disrespectful and sometimes dangerous.  They must watch out for psychological issues, bad living conditions, and substance abuse while staying within the confines of privacy, policy, and procedure.  And they must do all this while actually teaching — introducing new ideas and concepts and encouraging students to think critically about all aspects of their lives — in between mandatory testing, of course.  The stress that teachers are put under is incredible — Morris starts the book by stating that almost half of all teachers quit within their first five years.  Most cannot handle it.

Teacher Misery is a brutally honest look into teaching, and I think it’s something that needs to be read.  When I began writing this review, I was going to write that my only complaint was that Morris does not counter her bad experiences with any good ones.  But then I remembered it was titled Teacher Misery for a reason.  If I had experienced all that Morris had been through, I would rant for 244 pages too.

I received this book from Truth Be Told Publishing through NetGalley for free in exchange for this honest review.

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