And You Call Yourself A Teacher?

No Teacher Left StandingNo Teacher Left Standing by Jeffrey Penn May
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And You Call Yourself A Teacher?

Reluctantly I find myself criticizing a writer who has come closer than most to capturing the chaos of elementary school teaching. No Teacher Left Standing reads like a whirlwind of lunchrooms, auditoriums, and classrooms, culminating in a satisfying conclusion of lost kids finally getting on the right bus.

Perhaps because we have become obsessed with second-by-second news, blog posts, and Facebook updates, we have become inured to confusing sentences, wrong words, and typos. In our self-everything culture, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by this. Writing has always been a solitary endeavor and therefore prone to mistakes, especially if you rush. And now, with self-publishing (and some small publishers), important filters have been removed. The writer is now responsible for not only the original content, but also for intricate formatting, eye-catching cover art, extensive marketing, final copy edit, and more. Writers should not take these responsibilities lightly.

When the writer is also a teacher, there is an added responsibility. Teachers should maintain a sharp critical eye; they should become our bulwark against sloppy editing. Unfortunately, No Teacher Left Standing, regardless of its admirable and highly readable content, suffers from pronoun confusion, missing words, questionable formatting, and typos. Apparently, the author imitated his students and “forgot” to edit his own manuscript.

While we may be an obsessed society, mistakes be damned, Jeffrey Penn May is a teacher and should know better. He insists that others edit their work, yet has done a lousy job with his own. What is going on here? I hope for the sake of teachers everywhere that he embraces his duty as an educator and corrects No Teacher Left Standing. If I were the author, I would be embarrassed about the generally poor copy editing.

And since I am the author, I am embarrassed, and I apologize.

While it’s not practical to continuously revise – bogging us down in an endless cycle of revision – I can clean up the current copy. And I vow to do so. Hopefully your copy of No Teacher Left Standing has been updated. Even so, you will probably still find mistakes. (I look forward to hearing from you.) While we all strive for perfection, it remains ever elusive.

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