Saturday, September 05, 2009

Literary Analysis

This morning I crafted my morning latte, sat down to the laptop in order to peruse my favorite web-reads. After finishing Steven Brill's "The Rubber Room," an irritiating look at the UFT's protection of incompetent and unsafe teachers, I found Malcom Gladwell's "The Courthouse Ring," an analysis of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
From a teacher's perspective, I will use this essay if I ever get the chance to teach the novel. From a reader's perspective, I hated everything about it. Gladwell has shed doubt on the goodness of the novel, something I was not ready for at the time--nor will I be able to forget. Dang it.


At 1:17 PM , Blogger Liberty Rose said...

I read the Rubbr Room last spring. God, what a same, a disgrace, a waste. Unfortunately our schools are full to the brim with ineffective people because of tenure as well as education's tendancy to avoid all confrontation.
I am currently on a one year leave to pursue my special ed/pupil services license. I am sooooo not an administrator, but as "just teacher" I am powerless to effect some necessary changes. I am blogging about this journey to the dark side. I hope I don't come out the other side humorless and really stupid.

At 6:05 PM , Anonymous Joe Bellacero said...

A couple of things, Mr. M. If you read the Stephen Brill article and came away with anger at the UFT, then congratulations on your purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge. Mr. Brill mentions the value of tenure and then never addresses it. He mentions that 97% of new teachers get tenure but not that that has absolutely nothing to do with the union—which does not grant tenure. He mentions a teacher who has received all satisfactory ratings until a new principal arrives and leaves the teacher twisting in the wind by choosing to quote someone who says the principal is wonderful, without even a hint that such a person might be a sycophant. This is such a heavily weighted article whitewashing a school administration which created the rubber room, which prolongs the process by understaffing the arbitration board, which undermines any attempt to streamline the review system that does not give it complete control, that I am shocked that anyone cannot see through it. It's purpose is to undermine the our reasonable commitment to due process and is shameless in slanting everything to that purpose. Were due process not available, Mr. M. you could be gone tomorrow if an administrator took offense at your blog, “Incompetent, for the good of the children, shut up , hit the road, Mr. M.” But Brill sold you exactly what he wanted you to buy.
The second thing.
Mr. Gladwell [whose asinine article a few months back suggesting that the hiring of the 6 million teachers in the United States is somehow analogous to hiring of the 32 first string quarterbacks in the NFL and recommending that we put any shlump who wants a job into a classroom to see how well he/she does (though, of course, presumably not in his daughter’s class) will long serve as my classroom example of gonzo writing] really works hard to make his point about racism and liberalism. I appreciate that kind of effort. But the fact is, Harper Lee presents Atticus as a flawed man (but struggling to maintain integrity) trying to make justice prevail (within the then current understanding of justice) through an honest attempt to do his job as a lawyer (who, apparently, were once children too). Gladwell’s remolding him into a Southern Liberal archetype is as stupid as J.K. Rowling’s claim that Dumbledore is gay. These are characters—if a trait is not suggested in the writing then it is the reader, not the writer that is responsible for creating it.
By the way, Boo Radley is a neighbor, Tom Robinson is a job; just as C.J. and Zach are my sons and James and Stephanie are my students. If we reacted the same way to our jobs as we do to our families and neighbors we’d kill ourselves in a week.

At 1:41 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Joe, always good to hear from you. And by the way, how's the book coming?


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