Title: Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America
Author: Jay Matthews
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Copyright Date: 2009
Print Date: January 2009
Pages: 314 + Index
Book Description (from back cover):
MIKE FEINBERG AND DAVE LEVIN were determined to learn how best to teach their low-income, at-risk students. Observing the methods of extraordinary teachers and eventually developing their own unconventional classroom model, these two young men overcame the obstacles and challenged the statistics to found a wildly successful nationwide network of public charter schools called the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP).
KIPP Welcome Video:
In place of a trailer, this is the welcome video for KIPP. As a welcome video, it does have something of a promotional feel to it. I want to clarify, that's not my intention. I just thought this says something about what the book is all about. And I personally found it interesting to put faces to some of the students and others I read about.
I saw this at the library, thought it sounded interesting, picked it up, and, being the procastinator I am, waited until it was overdue and out of renewals (the library allows 3) before actually starting to read it.
I was just going to read a little, confirm to myself that it would take too much time that I (obviously - seeing as it was overdue) didn't have to read this. Instead I found myself sucked in. I was more than half way through the book when I fell asleep (with the lights on...I hate when that happens). I started it immediately upon waking and continued until I completed it.
The book is set up in parts of a typical class day. The introduction is "Orientation". The bulk of the book is divided into the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Periods, with little "Study Hall" sections flashing to the progress of a current KIPP student. The book is concluded with "Commencement" and the author's acknowledgements are found in the "Honor Roll."
Mr. Matthews managed to keep my attention. I wasn't bored, and actually found myself reading a non-fiction book at an exceptionally fast paced compared to my usual reading habits with a book of a similar genre. I have no interest in teaching, but have long been a student and am a supporter of education in general, so I did have some interest, though nothing personally relevant.
I was torn between two primary reactions. One — wow, these guys were so determined, and hard working, etc. compared to myself at the same age. The other — how would I have done in the learning environment described? I would have fit the low-income part (family of 5 under $20,000, free lunches program), but I am white and not from a major metropolitan area. Anyway, I thought, how would I have responded to longer hours, increased communication with teachers, major trips, etc. Would I maybe not be unemployed now? Or would it not have made much of a difference? I still can't really say, of course.
I found the book interesting. It sparked my interest to the point that I read futher on the subject (academic articles and such).