Our reissue of Bel Kaufman's classic 1964 novel timelessly depicts the shambolic joys and myriad frustrations of a young teacher. With an introduction by Diane Ravitch and a foreword by Gabbie Stroud.
Sylvia Barrett arrives at New York City's Calvin Coolidge High fresh from earning literature degrees at Hunter College and eager to shape young minds. Instead she encounters broken windows, a lack of supplies, a stifling bureaucracy, and students with no interest in Chaucer. Her bumpy yet ultimately rewarding journey is depicted through an extraordinary collection of correspondence - sternly worded yet nonsensical administrative memos, furtive notes of wisdom from teacher to teacher, 'polio consent slips', and student homework assignments that unwittingly speak from the heart.
Up the Down Staircase stands as the seminal novel of a beleaguered public school system that is redeemed by teachers who love to teach and students who long to be recognised. It is poignant, devastating, laugh-out-loud funny, and - in our current moment of debate around the future of education - more relevant than ever.
' Kaufman fully grasped the thankless position of the teachers left to impart knowledge and instil citizenship in the face of awesome obstacles ... T he most enduring account we have of teachers' lives - not naive, not exculpatory, but empathetic and aware.' -Samuel G. Freedman, The New Yorker ' A classic ... Shot through with despair and hopefulness, violence and levity ... A stunningly accurate portrait of life in an urban school.' -Margalit Fox, The New York Times 'The most excellent and useful portrait of a n ... American teacher's life that we are likely to have for a long time.' -Life