Teacher Review

Title // Teacher
Author // Gabbie Stroud
Publication Date // July 2018
Publisher //Allen & Unwin
Readership // Adult
Genre // Memoir
Australian RRP // $29.99
Rating // ✭✭✭✭
I received a copy of Teacher from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A powerful and moving memoir about how the current system is letting down children and parents, and breaking dedicated teachers. Devastating, heart-breaking, enraging.

Watching children learn is a beautiful and extraordinary experience. Their bodies transform, reflecting inner changes. Teeth fall out. Knees scab. Freckles multiply. Throughout the year they grow in endless ways and I can almost see their self-esteem rising, their confidence soaring, their small bodies now empowered. Given wings.

They fall in love with learning.

It is a kind of magic, a kind of loving, a kind of art.

It is teaching.

Just teaching.

Just what I do.

What I did.

Past tense.

In 2014, Gabrielle Stroud was a very dedicated teacher with over a decade of experience. Months later, she resigned in frustration and despair when she realised that the Naplan-test education model was stopping her from doing the very thing she was best at: teaching individual children according to their needs and talents. Her ground-breaking essay ‘Teaching Australia’ in the Feb 2016 Griffith Review outlined her experiences and provoked a huge response from former and current teachers around the world. That essay lifted the lid on a scandal that is yet to properly break – that our education system is unfair to our children and destroying their teachers.

In a powerful memoir inspired by her original essay, Gabrielle tells the full story: how she came to teaching, what makes a great teacher, what our kids need from their teachers, and what it was that finally broke her. A brilliant and heart-breaking memoir that cuts to the heart of a vital matter of national importance.

Teacher is a raw and powerful look at the state of education in Australia from the perspective of a teacher in the classroom. Gabbie Stroud doesn’t shy away from the ups and downs and emotional impact that teaching can have on a person, both personally and professionally.

From the outset, I’m going to be upfront and declare that I am a teacher in Australia, and that this book resonated strongly with me as a result. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a public school teacher these days who can’t find something to empathise with in Teacher – it is a very clear representation of what can and does happen in some schools (not all, but elements can be found anywhere).

What’s clear from the start is how passionate Stroud was about teaching and the impact she could have on her students. She wanted to be the best teacher she could be to help shape the lives of the students she taught – something that should be a good thing. Only, she’s come up against a sector that doesn’t entirely value the people working in the classrooms (again, this is a generalisation, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true) and finds new tasks and curriculum to add to an already-packed day of teaching.

I was tense the entire time reading Stroud’s book, because not only was what I was reading gripping, but I could see the parallels to my own life and career and that was, at times, both gratifying (because hey, I’m not the only one, right?!) and terrifying, because of the truth that she’s laid bare.

What’s clear is that teaching is not easy. It’s hard and heartbreaking while simultaneously being one of the most interesting and challenging careers out there. Stroud’s book will definitely be an eye-opening experience for anyone who’s never been a teacher (or known a teacher personally). For teachers, I think it’s a good reflection and opportunity to remind us that we’re not alone.

I gave Teacher 4 out of 5 stars.

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