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Book Title: "My Posse Don't Do Homework"|
The author of the book: LouAnne Johnson
Date of issue: August 1st 1992
ISBN 13: 9780312076382
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 543 KB
Edition: St. Martin's Press
Read full description of the books "My Posse Don't Do Homework":I decided to read this book after hearing an interview with Johnson on NPR’s This American Life. Johnson said her teaching experience wasn’t much like Michelle Pfeiffer’s teaching experience in Dangerous Minds, the movie inspired by Johnson’s book. She also said she returned, uncashed, the royalty check from the Dangerous Minds television show, a weekly drama inspired by the movie. Johnson didn’t want anything to do with it. And no wonder: The book is unlike the movie and the television show. In the book, Johnson never has her life threatened by a student. She never hosts a school fundraiser at a strip club. She teaches an Honors program for gifted students who have some of the academic struggles and behavior challenges depicted on the small and big screens, but not to the same degree. Most pointedly, at one point in the book, Johnson directly rejects the “teacher as savior” narrative that made the movie and television show so successful. When her colleague Bud criticizes her grading methods and then proceeds to glorify the time he spent working at a “dilapidated high school in the poorest section of the city” a few years prior, Johnson retorts, “Well, that was real white of you to go and help those poor little nigra and beaner heathen” (170).
I appreciated Johnson’s commitment to plot. Because so much writing about teaching is reflective, I found it refreshing to read something driven by action. The first two pages of the book contain these two sentences: “I couldn’t concentrate. Raul Chacon was standing in the middle of the parking lot outside my classroom, shivering in the freezing rain” (3), and “I had intended to keep Raul after class and give him a stern lecture, but I ended up giving him a hundred dollars instead” (4). Johnson doles out information in tantalizing, heaping teaspoons. One way she does this is by collapsing series of three or four small actions into quick, efficient summaries that propel the scene. Examples: “He leaned forward, crossed his arms on his desktop, and looked me straight in the eye” (33); “Jason was still holding the pencil, frowning at the page. A few words had been scribbled, but most of the exercises remained undone” (83); “I asked with exaggerated politeness. He ignored me. I leaned down and spoke close to his ear” (77); “I stopped dead and bellowed at top volume. It felt great, so I flailed my armes and shook my head wildly, letting my lips blubber loosely” (39). In the same way one detail in an essay or story can be described by activating “three sensuous strokes,” a scene can gain momentum with three small actions.
I also enjoyed Johnson’s intentional repetition when describing characters: “Mrs. Nichols cleared her throat and rearranged her necklace, three thick strands of braided silver rope” (18). Then, a page later: “Mrs. Nicols frowned and fingered her necklace” (19). Johnson uses the same kind of repetition in describing Troy Jones, a student with lightning bolts “shooting across his head” (77). A lengthier description: “His hair was cut close to his head, and a lightning bolt was shaved into the left side of his skull. Three tiny gemstones glittered on his left earlobe” (73). Then, a little later: “Troy Jones, complete with thunderbolts and earrings…” (85). Johnson refers to a hundred dollar bet she holds with one student four times in the first eleven pages, and then again at the very end of the book. On a practical level, repeating these salient details helped me keep track of the characters. Johnson taught four classes a day, and with so many of her classes full, I needed help keeping track of all the students.
Read information about the authorLouAnne Johnson is a former U.S. Navy journalist, Marine Corps officer, high school teacher, and the author of The New York Times bestseller Dangerous Minds (originally My Posse Don't Do Homework). In 1989, LouAnne began teaching reading and writing to non-English speakers as an intern at a high school in California. Since then LouAnne has taught English, adult basic education, developmental reading and writing at high schools and colleges. She also designs and presents workshops in classroom management and motivation. LouAnne has presented keynote and commencement addresses to numerous organizations, including the National School Boards Association, the National Council on Curriculum Development, National University and the European Council of International Schools. She has appeared on several TV shows, including Oprah, CBS Eye to Eye, NBC Weekend Today, Maury Povich, Tom Snyder, and CNN."
At present, she lives in rural Pennsylvania with her adopted canine companion, Brixley, and is working on a series of DVD's for teachers. Her next book, Kick-Start Your Class, will be published in April 2012.
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