Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Review: Learn Me Gooder, by John Pearson

Hi everyone! When you're studying to be a teacher, like I am, one thing you like to do is read about other teachers' experiences. At least I do. I love to read blogs, and I also enjoy reading books by teachers. Recently I got the chance to read Learn Me Gooder, by John Pearson. You may know him from his blog, Learn Me Good, or his first book by the same name. The blog is about the personal experiences of Mr. Pearson, a former designer engineer who, after being laid off from his job, decided to make a major life change and become a third grade math teacher. 
Here's where it gets a little confusing. Pearson's two books are about a former designer engineer who, after being laid off from his job, decided to make a major life change and become a third grade math teacher. His name is Jack Woodson! I guess Mr. Woodson is Mr. Pearson's alter-ego. He experiences many of the things that Mr. Pearson experienced as a teacher, but with a little bit of dramatic license. 
Mr. Woodson teaches at a school filled with children from low-income homes, many of whom speak English as their second language. But this isn't a powerful and inspirational story of a courageous teacher who turns an entire classroom around, gets gang members to write poetry, takes kids who are said to have low IQs and turns them into star students, etc. 
Instead, this is the story of a regular teacher, dealing with every day life as it comes. He writes sarcastic emails to a former co-worker , describing the things that go on in his classroom.
You may find yourself cringing as Woodson describes having to teach math to third graders who come into his classroom not knowing how to read or write, , who don't recognize what the = sign means, who think 25 cents is equal to either seven cents or a dollar, and who swear like little sailors. You'll sympathize with him for having to put so much energy into standardized testing, and having to deal with losing students and gaining new ones on an almost weekly basis. You'll also find yourself being inspired and impressed as Woodson finds ways of reaching the students, such as turning lines from Star Wars into mnemonic devices or realizing that offering a Golden Corral gift card as a reward can turn an F student into a B student.
And, more often than not, you'll be laughing at the ridiculous situations Woodson finds himself in, such as having to rescue a student from being swallowed up by a gaping hole in the earth in front of the school, or being tricked into calling a new student by a fake name for half a day. 
Whether you're a teacher, or just a book lover, I recommend you add both Learn Me Good and Learn Me Gooder to your reading list. Both are available on Amazon, in hard copy and Kindle versions. Enjoy!

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