Among Schoolchildren (thoughts)
Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder tells the story of a fifth-grade teacher in Massachusetts through one school year. Chris Zajac (a woman) teaches in a poorer region of Mount Holyoke, where most of the class lives in decrepit housing and has parents who don’t have time to participate much in their children’s lives. Throughout the year, she sets goals for herself concerning various students (whether to draw them out of their shell, or have them master long division). Sometimes she meets the goals, sometimes not; in the latter case, she tends to beat herself up.
The story is told a little strangely; Kidder acts as an omniscient third-person narrator (sometimes taking on the point of view of one of the students), but the reader never really discovers how Kidder found out all of this information. Especially when he’s discussing Ms. Zajac’s internal dialogue, this makes the reader jump out of the story a bit.
All in all, however, I felt that the book treated everything fairly. It certainly makes you realise just how difficult teaching is!