Tuesday, July 03, 2012

What Teachers Make - Mali

At a dinner party one night, Taylor Mali was asked what he "makes" as a teacher. His response was a wonderful poem, which he eventually turned into a performance piece that went viral. He was even asked to perform it at various notable events.

Now, it should be pointed out that I had never heard the poem before and it was only after I finished this book that I went online and watched his performance, which is actaully quite wonderful!  

Check it out: What Teachers Make

In praise of Mali, he does write with a real understanding of teachers' goals and passion for education. He offers several really great chapters that address some major concerns and issues in education today. They are quite good and I really wish he'd taken the time to expand on them.  Additionally, he has used his unique opportunity to inspire new teachers and to support education reform.

Perhaps, had I watched the performance first, I may have felt Mali's passion and love of education when I read his book What Teachers Make, a mix between "how to" and motivational guide for teachers.  Sadly, that was not the case.  For me, the book came off as more boastful than motivational.  He tells great classroom stories, how he got his students to succeed, used technology in the classroom, inspired his students...but offers little to guide teachers toward doing the same themselves. This may be a result of trying to keep the book short and sweet. Not a productive choice in my opinion.

As well, it seems that several of the chapters were written solely for the purpose of displaying Mali's poetry (he is a poet turned teacher turned motivational speaker/poet). With such an engaging personality and such strong writing skills, I would have expected more.

It is my understanding that he has several other books out and I welcome the opportunity to read more. For this book, however, I'll pass and watch the YouTube video instead.

2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.