TROUBLED TEACHERS by Esther P. Rothman


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An unequivocal indictment of how schools operate and those who perpetuate them. Rothman, outspoken principal of a NYC school for disturbed girls, is not only faulting a callous system but also fingering those who are attracted to it and who pass on its tacit assumptions. The title refers not to the few suffering severe personality disorders but to the majority who choose such careers for fuzzy personal reasons and then saddle children with misconceptions about education and adult life. Teachers, she insists, are often repressed, depressed, and fearful of their own aggressive impulses; dependent, overrespectful of childhood, timid with adults and authority figures; incorrigibly romantic believers in happy endings and pious Americanisms, even for the most disenfranchised; given to dangerous postures of omniscience and professionalism; sometime violent; generally conservative--most of the self-promoting rebels throw ""educational temper tantrums"" rather than work for significant, enduring change. One can play this game just as persuasively with other professions--surgeons are sadists, psychiatrists voyeurs--and ignore the adaptive value of certain traits, but Rothman's assertions, enlarged by example and alternatives, have an undeniable validity likely to interest both serious critics and camp followers. In illustrating her contentions, she fights off Saint Esther--this authority still makes mistakes--although her solution, a more responsive system of ""Educate centers"" concerned with human development, may be too happily-ended for bureaucratic consumption. This won't find any support at UFT headquarters--neither the broad characterizations nor the specific charges leveled at unions--and in fact there is little beyond her own outraged observations to substantiate her claims--no stuffy research or statements from colleagues. But few will challenge the depth of her commitment or match the wit and force of her argument.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1977
Publisher: McKay