Reviews - What do customers think about A Terrible Beauty?
At Laaaaasssst! Jun 25, 2004
Here we have a book that gets to the root of our problems in education. The school, and ultimately teachers, are held responsible for EVERYTHING. It was reassuring to find that someone out there had the nerve to point out the games played by systems to appease parents who believe that their children are not responsible for their own success or failure, no matter what they do or don't do. It points out the pressure on teachers to pass everyone, no matter how little students might invest, in an atmosphere where they get little respect or credit. In spite of the typos and rough format, this is a powerful book, one which should be read by all practitioners of education, including school board members. Anyone who can't see the message in this book for the format or takes issue with all the actions of O'Connell, is part of the problem we face in our struggle to return some semblance of sanity and value to education. Unless we are willing to acknowledge our shortcomings and face the fact that all the new fads in education are simply treating symptoms, we'll continue to get what we're getting. I applaud St. John for shrieking at the top of his lungs that the Emperor, indeed, is buck naked.
been there, done that Jan 29, 2000
Accurate portrayal of classroom and administration settings
awesome!! Apr 13, 1999
this is the best book I've ever read but I'm partial to the books my father writes.
A terrible irony! Aug 13, 1998
In attempting sympathetically to portray teacher Dai O'Connel's struggle to maintain academic standards in defiance of a misguided educational bureaucracy, this book itself fails to meet a number of minimum standards. It is poorly designed: some pages are right-justified, some are ragged right; a number of paragraphs are not indented; sometimes there's a space after a comma, sometimes there isn't; some quotation marks are missing. Characters' names are not consistently spelled: Patti becomes Patty, which reverts to Patti. One character is consistently Genaro throughout most of the book, but is Jenaro toward the end, then Genaro again. There are word usage problems: "it's" is used as "its"; "your" is used as "you're." The prose is frequently overwrought and occasionally confused; sometimes it's not possible to determine who is uttering a given part of the dialogue. There are impossible happenings: in a torrential downpour, O'Connel rescues a woman from a flooded bridge, carries her back to his truck parked at the side of the road, then backs onto "dry pavement." O'Connel teaches his students that nitrogen is a noble gas; nevertheless, "Some plants can take it out of the air, and make their own fertilizer."
I am most offended, however, by O'Connel's ignorance about and contempt for some students and their parents. Parents who question his methods aren't simply in disagreement; they have "pig eyes," wear "purple sweats three sizes too small," and "exud[e] a pinched confidence." He calls the students he doesn't like "jerks" and "horse's asses." One unruly student is characterized as having "O.D.D.-- Opposition Defined Disability." Presumably this is a reference to oppositional defiant disorder, a disorder that can develop into a serious disability but can be successfully treated with therapy and medication (see "When You Worry About the Child You Love," by Edward Hallowell, M.D.). O'Connel dismisses his ODD-afflicted student as a "loser," in one classroom scene slams him up against the wall, and in more than one instance declares that some students simply can't learn.
A child I'm quite close to has Tourette syndrome and a number of associated problems, including ODD. His parents have been extraordinarily devoted to him and extremely patient with him. He has occasionally been out of control at school, but his school has not given up on him. He has been successfully treated with both therapy and medication, and he is learning a great deal in a classroom with a talented teacher. I wouldn't want him ever to be within earshot of or influenced by any teacher like Dai O'Connel.
LOVE STORY WITH A BITE Jan 29, 1998
What happens if a teacher isn't willing to compromise on what he knows is right and the woman who is sent to fire him is both attracted to the man and has scruples of her own?