Kate Clanchy has taught in state schools for nearly 30 years. Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me is a book about a life’s work in a profession and in a national institution. By telling the stories of some of the kids she taught, some of the teachers she worked with, and some of the lessons she’s learned, Clanchy offers a revelatory picture of school life, and a fascinating look at the role education plays in our society today.
This is not a work of moaning pessimism or dry sociology, lamenting the actions of successive governments when it comes to policy decisions. While Lessons acknowledges the undoubtedly difficult situation in many schools, Clanchy writes beautifully about her students as people, whose diversity, humour and sheer brains she aims to celebrate; she writes about the uplifting power of teaching when practiced well, about the success she’s seen and encouraged in some of the most challenged and challenging pupils she knows, and about the effect all of this had on her, as a teacher, mother and citizen.
As well as her real-world experience in schools, Clanchy is a prize-winning author of fiction and poetry. This unique combination of talents – her decades in the classroom, her fearlessness and wit, her poet’s eye and inimitable voice – allow her to explore serious questions by telling human stories that are sometimes funny sometimes sad, but always moving and deeply sympathetic. Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me is a relevant, affecting and agenda-setting book that will really get people talking.