A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned

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Basic Books, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 229 pages
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In a memoir that begins with her earliest school days, proceeds through college and graduate school, and arrives at her hard-won professional successes, Tompkins shows how her education shaped her in the mold of a high achiever who could read five languages but had little knowledge of herself. As she slowly awakens to the needs of her body, heart, and spirit, she throws out the window all the conventions of classroom teaching and discovers what her students' lives are like. Tompkins comes to develop an attitude toward learning that accepts the importance of the inner life. With this new-found pedagogy, one is educated not only through reading Melville or T. S. Eliot, but also through more unusual channels: a karate lesson, Buddhist meditation, cooking a meal, walking a dog.
 

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Contents

The Dream of Authority
2
PS 98
9
Foyer
35
Other People
52
Teachers
56
Talking in Class
63
Higher Education
67
Making It
86
Postcards from the Edge
142
Reverie
154
Karate Lesson
157
Lets Get Lost
163
The Way We Live Now
182
Coffee
196
Time Out
199
The Cloister and the Heart
208

Ash Wednesday
115
The Day I Walked Out of Class
133
Chair Table Lamp
226
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About the author (1996)

Jane Tompkins is a professor of English at Duke University. She is the author of Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, and more recently, West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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