Whatever its current prestige in our society, teaching is undoubtedly complex work. Like physicians and therapists, teachers work with people, rather than things. They try to help their students to improve over time, and while they have influence, they do not have complete control. Unlike these other human-centered professions, we often see teachers as being directly responsible for the success or failure of their students. It is their job to create equality of opportunity. The onus of our entire nation is placed on individuals, and the pressure is enormous. How do teachers navigate the anxieties associated with this work? How do they deal with the conflicting demands of their numerous stakeholders? How has their work changed in response to new technology and an emphasis on standardized testing? In Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher (Metropolitan Books, 2014), Garret Keizer reflects on his return to teaching English at the same rural Vermont high school he left to pursue a full-time writing career fifteen years earlier.
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