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School Blues by Daniel Pennac

School Blues (2007)

by Daniel Pennac

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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loved this book. It's about the kids who don't do so well at school - Pennac describes himself as a dunce (cancre) during his own school days, but under the encouragement of great teachers he did well and ended up as a teacher himself, so he's seen both (all three?) sides of the story.

The book mixes memoir (of his schooling and teaching days) with a sort of manifesto for what teaching ought to provide, and the sympathy and support which should be given to those who don't find studying too easy, who don't "enjoy the blessed facility of being able to slip into a different skin whenever necessary, to shift from restless teenager to attentive student, from spurned sweetheart to focused scientist, from sporting hero to swot, from elsewhere to here, from past to present, from maths to literature".

While making a compelling case, Pennac knows that it's not easy - he recounts occasions when he too failed to reach out or to be patient or generous. He mocks his own pretensions and becomes, for me, an even more sympathetic character. All this, incidentally, is beautifully written and translated. I'll be giving School Blues to all of my friends who work in education. ( )
1 vote wandering_star | Nov 1, 2012 |
This is not quite the autobiography which I thought it was going to be. There are memories of the author's own (disastrous) school days, but these are just anecdotes that lead to general philosophising about what makes a good teacher, what is teaching, why some pupils are considered 'difficult', whether it is more difficult to teach now than in the '60s or '70s etc. That approach is very French, and it takes some getting used to (I also leanrt some new trendy slang that came up whenever pupils are quoted). Fortunately, the chapters are interspersed with short vignettes that lighten one's reading, and by the end I'd grown quite fond of the elderly teacher-author. ( )
1 vote fist | Jan 3, 2012 |
Le cancre de l'intérieur et de l'extérieur.... Et quelques souvenirs d'école qui remontent à la lecture. Un livre agréable. ( )
  kanichat | May 9, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Pennacprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ardizzone, SarahTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blake, QuentinForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mélaouah, YasminaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Passet, EvelineÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Daniel Pennac has never forgotten what it was like to be a very unsatisfactory student, nor the day one of his teachers saved his life by assigning him the task of writing a novel. This was the moment Pennac realized that no-one has to be a failure for ever. In School Blues, Pennac explores the many facets of schooling: how fear makes children reject education; how children can be captivated by inventive thinking; how consumerism has altered attitudes to learning. Haunted by memories of his own turbulent time in the classroom, Pennac enacts dialogues with his teachers, his parents and his own students, and serves up much more than a bald analysis of how young people are consistently failed by a faltering system. 
School Blues is not only universally applicable, but it is unquestionably a work of literature in its own right, driven by subtlety, sensitivity and a passion for pedagogy, while embracing the realities of contemporary culture.
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