Book Review: To Teach: The Journey, In Comics

In the spirit of some of the comics-related posts I’ve been doing, I wanted to share a book review I wrote for the Harvard Educational Review on a fabulous graphic novel about teaching, by educator and activist Bill Ayers.

To Teach: The Journey, In Comics
by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner
New York: Teachers College Press, 2010. 128 pp. $15.95

“Teaching at its best is not a matter of technique—it is primarily an act of love.”
– William Ayers

If I am left with only one lingering feeling from reading To Teach: The Journey, in Comics, it is love. This book exudes love: love for the profession of teaching and the brave, creative souls who engage in it; love for the children and youth who inspire, challenge, and teach the teacher; and even, in the end, love for the educational bureaucrats who are lampooned at various points in the book. William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner obviously adore teaching in all its messiness, and that adoration is infectious.

This book is a graphic novel adaptation of William Ayers’s classic work To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, first published in 1993. The original text has been brought to life through striking black-and-white cartoons from artist Ryan Alexander-Tanner. As in the original, the graphic novel is made up of eight chapters, each delving into a different aspect of teaching. The ideas are grounded in Ayers’s time as a kindergarten teacher, his experiences as a parent, and the work of other innovative educators. To Teach is a book about what is possible; the educators featured are real people making real magic in real classrooms.

Ayers and Alexander-Tanner offer an impassioned plea for sloughing off the “myths” of teaching, such as the idea that children are worse than they were in the past or that a teacher’s work is to “save” students…Click HERE to read the full review

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