Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: Learn me Good by John Pearson


Welcome to my second Smashwords review! Today's book is Learn me Good by John Person and unfortunately, it's not as glowing as my last one. The premise seemed promising enough: an engineer-turned-teacher recounts his exploits in the classroom to a former colleague in a series of 'humourous' emails. There is one positive review up on Smashwords already, from somebody who found the book hilarious, but adds that she does not work with kids and does not read in this genre.

Well, I do work with kids, and I do read in this genre. And while I can't fault Mr. Pearson for his grammar and overall polish, I have to admit that I just didn't find most of his stories very funny. A lot of what he recounts is fairly standard teacher stuff: a new kid joins the class mid-year and clashes with a child who is already there. A new kid joins the class who has a funny name. A kid does something wrong and lies to your face about it, or lies to their parent's face about it, or lies to your face about what they told their parent's face and so on. A kid gives a 'creative' answer when you ask them something.

Meh. I keep a blog about teaching, mostly as a means of sharing self-created lessons with other teachers using the same curriculum program as me, and most of my stories are the same, or better. And I found his relentless leanings to the cutesy tiresome---'clever' nicknames about, and there are puns everywhere. It was just too much. And it was especially too much when there was no plot to speak of and all you had to look forward to was an endless parade of sameness about kids with funny names giving you smart answers to the sorts of questions which populate a third-grade standardized test.

If you don't work with kids, this might not all sound so run of the mill to you. But as a teacher who sees all of this stuff on a routine basis, none of what he writes about here was terribly unique or interesting. This book needed a stronger narrative drive, a serious toning down of the cutesy, and just overall better content. I give this a 3/5, and in my opinion, that is generous. If you want to read two really excellent books on children and teaching, I recommend this one and this one instead.

1 comment:

Mary McManus said...

I so agree with you about Learn me Good. As a former teacher and librarian, I did not find his anecdotes remarkable or terribly amusing. I've been continually amazed at those in the Amazon forum who think it is wonderful. You hit the nail on the head when you said the book would be perceived differently if you had taught.