In the News: Fortress of Tedium – What I Learned as a Substitute Teacher.

This weekend, the New York Times magazine published an excerpt from a new book by novelist Nicholson Baker about 28 days he spent as a substitute teacher in Maine in 2014.

ednext-ototn-sept16-nyt-fortress-coverIn an open letter to the editor of the New York Times, psychologist Dan Willingham writes

Printing Nicholson Baker’s article in yesterday’s Magazine was a terrible, terrible decision.

The decision deserves two “terribles” because it was a double mistake.

First, you published an article on a topic that entails conflicting priorities in setting goals for public good, policy constraints in achieving these goals, the science of learning, distribution of wealth, and doubtless other complexities that I’m too exhausted to identify and enumerate. The author of the article has no expertise on any of these matters. That he appears to believe his 28 days as a substitute teacher gives him much insight into schooling only makes him less credible.

In the Washington Post, Dana Goldstein gives the book a negative review.

In a feature article she wrote for Education Next, June Kronholz looked at the role played by substitute teachers in America’s schools and at the impact of our reliance on substitutes on school budgets and student learning.

— Education Next

Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College