Please consider -
Accidental Lessons - A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed
By David W. Berner
Blurb from Bookreview -
By BookReview (Madison, WI United States) -
You'll be hard pressed to find anyone these days that can't identify with David W. Berner on some level. His memoir, "Accidental Lessons", begins with his first day at Cowherd Middle School (and yeah, I looked it up. It's there; Cow Herd.) But Berner isn't a student. He's a teacher, and he's just hit hard economic times (sound familiar?). After his reporting gig falls through and the Dot-com bubble bursts he suddenly finds himself at the mercy of a legion of rough inner city street kids. Berner doesn't sugarcoat the situation. It's bad. But what "Accidental Lessons" proves is that it's when situations are at their most dire that we find out exactly what we're made of, and that even kids who seem bad, when given the chance, are often good.
It's remarkable to hear about Berner's double-sided experience with both teaching and learning in the classroom. Like anyone on their first day at school, Berner does what he sees the other teachers doing, and as he gets settled into the life of a middle school teacher, he begins to learn things about himself that he never did while reporting on golf over the internet. The heart of "Accidental Lessons" is perfectly summated in its title. These are the lessons that come with loss; loss of a father, loss of a marriage, loss of a career. Berner discovers that the kids he's teaching know a thing or two about loss, maybe even a thing or two more than him. This is, as they say, the school of "Hard Knocks", and David W. Berner brings his reporter's pen to the school desk. He gives you a front row seat.
It wouldn't do justice to Berner's memoir to say that the stories he tells about his interactions with the students at Cowherd Middle School are a roller coaster ride. They are, but this is the kind of roller coaster that you never quite feel safe riding. Cowherd is a school that funnels in society's cruel outcasts. "Accidental Lessons" will toss you like a cork at sea, throw you heavy against its steel straps, and when it's done you'll never be quite the same. This is the kind of book you tell your friends about as if, just by reading it, you had lived it. It's the kind of ride that you feel in your legs long after you've gotten off, and are waiting in line to ride again.