Teacher Misery perfectly encapsulates the comical misery that has become the teaching profession. Morris’ strange, funny, and sometimes unbelievable teaching experiences are told through a collection of short stories, essays and artifacts including real emails from parents, students and administrators. From the parents who blame their son’s act of arson on the teacher for causing him low self-esteem, to the student who offers to teach the teacher how to sell drugs so she can pay her bills, to the administrator whose best advice is to “treat kids like sacks of shit,” one story is more shocking than the next.
I harboured ambitions to be a teacher once – a few years spent working at a special needs college had me all set to go study at University and continue on to being a teacher – but sadly a car running over me put paid to the University idea for a year, and also, it seems, knocked some sense into me. As enthusiastic as I am about English and History, I realise now that I would struggle with teaching – I’m far too easygoing to get any results out of the pupils!
So “Teacher Misery” was an enlightening read – a lot of my friends and family are teachers, and the horror stories I’ve heard from them mean that I’ve always wanted to delve deeper into the life of a teacher – especially one that goes through such extreme experiences and situation as Jane Morris does. This is no misery memoir, and neither is it an uplifting book about the power of teaching – it is honest (sometimes brutally so), and packed full of moment which leave the reader unsure whether to laugh or cry for a moment (I settled for laughing). Eye opening and eyebrow raising, it sheds light on the brutality of life as a teacher, and also raises some interesting questions about the way schools are run.
Honest and accurate but never unkind, “Teacher Misery” is a great read filled with dry wit, and illuminates the lives of those to whom we owe a hell of a lot! Well worth a read.