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Substitute: Going to School with a Thousand Kids
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Penguin Publishing Group 2016
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**A New York Times Bestseller**
“May be the most revealing depiction of the American contemporary classroom that we have to date." —Garret Keizer, The New York Times Book Review
 
Bestselling author Nicholson Baker, in pursuit of the realities of American public education, signed up as a substitute teacher in a Maine public school district.
In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher’s five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done. What emerges from Baker’s experience is a complex, often touching deconstruction of public schooling in America: children swamped with overdue assignments, over­whelmed by the marvels and distractions of social media and educational technology, and staff who weary themselves trying to teach in step with an often outmoded or overly ambitious standard curriculum.
 
In Baker’s hands, the inner life of the classroom is examined anew—mundane work­sheets, recess time-outs, surprise nosebleeds, rebellions, griefs, jealousies, minor triumphs, kindergarten show-and-tell, daily lessons on everything from geology to metal tech to the Holocaust—as he and his pupils struggle to find ways to get through the day. Baker is one of the most inventive and remarkable writers of our time, and Substitute, filled with humor, honesty, and empathy, may be his most impressive work of nonfiction yet.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/06/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780399576379
ASIN:
B01COJUGEO

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APA Citation (style guide)

Nicholson Baker. (2016). Substitute: Going to School with a Thousand Kids. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Nicholson Baker. 2016. Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Nicholson Baker, Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Nicholson Baker. Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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fullDescription
**A New York Times Bestseller**
“May be the most revealing depiction of the American contemporary classroom that we have to date." —Garret Keizer, The New York Times Book Review
 
Bestselling author Nicholson Baker, in pursuit of the realities of American public education, signed up as a substitute teacher in a Maine public school district.
In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher’s five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done. What emerges from Baker’s experience is a complex, often touching deconstruction of public schooling in America: children swamped with overdue assignments, over­whelmed by the marvels and distractions of social media and educational technology, and staff who weary themselves trying to teach in step with an often outmoded or overly ambitious standard curriculum.
 
In Baker’s hands, the inner life of the classroom is examined anew—mundane work­sheets, recess time-outs, surprise nosebleeds, rebellions, griefs, jealousies, minor triumphs, kindergarten show-and-tell, daily lessons on everything from geology to metal tech to the Holocaust—as he and his pupils struggle to find ways to get through the day. Baker is one of the most inventive and remarkable writers of our time, and Substitute, filled with humor, honesty, and empathy, may be his most impressive work of nonfiction yet.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 6, 2016
        Baker (Traveling Sprinkler) returns to nonfiction with this extensive day-to-day account of his experience working as a substitute teacher in Maine. Baker worked a total of 28 days, in multiple roles ranging from kindergarten to high school as well as serving as an “ed tech.” He faithfully recounts the minutiae of his activities, each day unfolding over the course of 40 to 50 pages. There are plenty of worksheets to hand out, discipline schemes to remember, and a constant, drumbeating reminder for the students to be “totally quiet!” Also ubiquitous are iPads, (“the bane of education,” according to one teacher), which do more to distract than instruct. Baker soon discovers that even iPad cases become fearsome weapons in the hands of schoolchildren. Many students ignore his meager attempts to teach, or don’t even bother to try anything that might be considered learning. The funny, loud, struggling, blithe kids interest him much more than any of the lessons he tries to teach. Although Baker truly admires the kids around him, by day nine, he is defeated and ready to give up. Though much of the text recounts conversations among students, and Baker’s signature wordplay and inventive voice shine through elsewhere in the narrative. The book can be tedious when read in long stretches, but ultimately Baker forges a gripping and indispensable time-capsule of teaching and learning in the 21st century.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 15, 2016
        The eminent Maine-based author chronicles his lively, maddening month substitute teaching in the local public schools.An award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, Baker (Traveling Sprinkler, 2013, etc.) subbed mostly in the public schools of Lasswell, Maine, near his home over the course of 28 days scattered between March and June 2014. Reading this day-by-day record--the author substitute taught for classes ranging from first grade to special-education high school math--readers will be struck by how arduous it is simply to fill such long days for the young students. Baker's "training" was mostly a brief course in learning "codes of cooperation" and Common Core standards, abbreviations for learning disabilities, and clues how to control a class (he did not require a special degree for substitute teaching). He had to pay $50 for a criminal background check and fingerprinting and would earn $70 per day subbing, boosted by $5 for taking the initial training course. His book is literally a record of those 28 days, with verbatim conversations (we assume--did he record them? Or re-create them from notes?) that make for an amusing, spontaneous-feeling narrative, from which readers derive a sense of what it was truly like in the classrooms teeming with rowdy, diverse students. Getting the high schoolers to focus--turn off their electronic devices and quit chatting--was the biggest challenge for the older classes, while the younger pupils often moved from one non sequitur to the next. Baker was able to enlist his strengths as a writer to great effect, but he hated the noise level in the classes and the requirements to follow senseless make-work plans that bludgeoned the students' creativity and spontaneity. Ultimately, the author's chronicle is insightful but overly long and occasionally repetitive--indeed, Baker has left a record of what filling up days in school actually looks like. An affecting (long-exposure) snapshot revealing real-life concerns.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from July 1, 2016
        Award-winning novelist and nonfiction author Baker (Traveling Sprinkler, 2012) brings his inimitable perspective and literary style to the classroom in this compelling, enormously detailed, endlessly surprising chronicle of working for 28 days as a substitute teacher in his Maine public-school district. In a brief introduction, he describes the book as a moment-by-moment account, and he's not kidding. He teaches every subject, monitors cafeteria time and recess, attends mandatory assemblies, and keeps exhausted teenagers awake in homeroom. In each chapter, Baker records what he sees, hears, and experiences in kindergarten through high-school classrooms. Nearly every word he hears is in these pages, the petty arguments and complaints, the frustrations and fears, the excitement and joy. Baker makes no wide pronouncements about the education system or curriculum, but rather reports on the rigid schedule that keeps everyone moving from one topic to another as students fight fatigue and boredom on an hourly basis and as dreaded worksheets evoke horror in everyone, including Baker. There is no need for Baker to quote experts; all he had to do was listen. What he learned and what he so clearly recounts is powerful.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 1, 2016

        To research his new book, award-winning author Baker (Double Fold) spent 28 days as the "lowest-ranking participant in American education: a substitute teacher." His objective is not to give policy prescriptions or to discover "what works" in education but rather to convey the "noisy, distracted, crazy-making reality" of schools surrounding his home in rural Maine. Baker effectively portrays the everyday din of grinding pencil sharpeners and screaming students. His book abounds in artful observations and snippets of dialog with children, and in this compares favorably to a classic of the genre: Tracy Kidder's Among Schoolchildren. But it is also studded with subtle insights. He writes of the apparent futility of schooling, the "valueless, instantly forgettable knowledge" that children are expected to absorb, and bemoans the educational culture of assessment tools and checklists. Baker spends a lot of time--perhaps too much--reporting on students: what they say, do, and even eat. Amid all this data, some readers may justifiably be looking for more than mere observation. Nevertheless, this minor quibble should not dissuade libraries from purchasing one of the few tomes relating to substitute teaching. VERDICT Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/7/16.]--Seth Kershner, Northwestern Connecticut Community Coll. Lib., Winsted

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 1, 2016

        Folks likely think first of Baker in terms of his daring and deeply descriptive novels (e.g., Vox), but let's remember that he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, namely, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (controversial to some). Here, Baker uses his experience as a substitute teacher in Maine's public school system to examine the thorny issue of education in America today.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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**A New York Times Bestseller**
“May be the most revealing depiction of the American contemporary classroom that we have to date." —Garret Keizer, The New York Times Book Review
 
Bestselling author Nicholson Baker, in pursuit of the realities of American public education, signed up as a substitute teacher in a Maine public school district.
In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher’s five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done. What emerges from Baker’s experience is a complex, often touching deconstruction of public schooling in America: children swamped with overdue assignments, over­whelmed by the marvels...
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