Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Ten books that show the lives of school teachers

Sarah Beddow is a poet, essayist, and mother. She is the author of the memoir-in-poems Dispatches from Frontier Schools and the chapbook What's pink & shiny/what's dark & hard. Her poems and essays have appeared in Bone Bouquet, Birdcoat Quarterly, Rogue Agent, Lunch Ticket, and elsewhere, and she is on the board of Awesome Pittsburgh, which grants money — cold hard cash with no strings attached - to fund awesome projects in the Pittsburgh area.

At Electric Lit Beddow tagged ten books that "portray educators with nuance, demystifying the job and demonstrating that it is a deeply human endeavor." One title on the list:
The Most Precious Substance on Earth by Shashi Bhat

The Most Precious Substance on Earth charts the protagonist Nina’s journey from high school student to high school teacher. The book reflects the fraught power dynamics between students and teachers, beginning with Nina’s statutory rape at the hands of the teacher she has a crush on and culminating in her realization that her fear of being a bad teacher herself is just too much to bear. On an internet date, Nina explains teaching like this:

[I]n the classroom, you have to be teaching, of course, and doing teacherly tasks like handing out photocopies and telling people to stop talking, but you also have to be constantly aware of how fragile your students are. Sometimes it’s almost a high, and then other times it like being an air traffic controller—just…too much.

And I feel that in my heart, the way teaching is high-wire act of professionalism and personal connection that you are almost destined to screw up.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Precious Substance on Earth.

Q&A with Shashi Bhat.

--Marshal Zeringue