Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free Stuff, VIBs & Book Reviews

OK, I might as well admit it–I love free stuff (but I hardly ever get free stuff unless you count the samples they give out in grocery stores). Pathetic, I know.

So, my friends, when I got an email from a very nice marketing assistant hawking a free copy of Peg Tyre’s book, the Trouble With Boys, if I would just read it and review it or discuss it on my blog, well a few things crossed my mind. (Yeah, I know, it’s those darn tootin’ things again.)

“Yippee! Free stuff for me!” was, of course, Thing Number 1 that crossed my mind.

That, however, was closely followed by Thing Number 2–“Jeepers, I bet that very nice marketing assistant (much less Ms. Tyre) has never, ever read my blog. Otherwise both shes probably wouldn’t appreciate this very seriously researched book on a very seriously important subject reviewed/discussed/mentioned by a not-so-serious journalism adviser.”

Now, if I’m being totally honest, there also was Thing Number 3. For a brief egocentric moment, I thought to myself, “Woo-ho, I must be a VIB--as in Very Important Blogger--for someone to offer me free stuff.”

Thing Number 3 lasted, oh, about a nanosecond when I figured out the nice little email was probably a mass emailing and the very nice marketing assistant was probably some computer in a backroom named Nicole. Kind of like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but nicer.

So for another fleeting moment, I thought I would just ignore the offer and go on about my quirky non-free stuff existence.

Still, it was free stuff after all (and I never get free stuff)… so speedy quick I responded, “Send it,” and for about a week, “The Trouble with Boys" went back and forth with me to work and started an entire listing in my head about how I could write volumes about “The Trouble With Richie.” But then I figured that probably wasn’t what computer Nicole had in mind when she said “review,” and so that is how “The Boys” accompanied me on my recent flight to Colorado to take care of family stuff (along with the 20 or so yearbook pages to edit).

Hmmm…Are you wondering which one won my time? Kind of a no-brainer there. “The Boys” won without even a run-off over reading those yearbook pages (which I’m sure thrills the crack fire out of my yearbook rep).

Now I really only intended to read just a few pages. Instead, I rather surprised myself and kept turning the pages. I’m more than half way through and highly recommend it. (And, I’m not just saying that because the book was free.)

Let me just share one anecdote from the book. Picture a second grade class. They are supposed to be working on a one page essay in their journals. One boy hides under his desk with a pencil tip in his ear. A classroom observer bends down and asked him what he’s doing…

He stared at her for a moment, then whispered, “Scratching my ear.”
Costello tried again. “Why are you under the desk?” she said keeping her voice low.
The boy tried to explain. “The teacher said we should write about anything,” he said, then fell silent.
“And?” prompted Costello.
“I don't know what to write.”
Let me just say I have big kids in high school who would curl up under a desk if they could fit there. Hails Bails, half the time I want to curl up under a desk, too.

But what this book does is make you think about all the things (yep, those things again) we do to kids--intentionally and unintentionally--and to boys specifically. And those things aren’t good things either. The problem with a book like this, though, is that it makes people tend to gloss over a very important point…

Good teachers are, well, good teachers. There I said it. We teach kids and we do it well. We view kids individually and adapt our lessons accordingly. That’s just what we do.

Now, aren’t you glad I got that free book? At least I didn’t have to curl up under my desk because I couldn’t think of something to blog about. And, as a nice added bonus, for a fleeting moment, I got to pretend to be a VIB.

Well, I’ve gotta go now and head off to the grocery store. You know, for that free stuff.


Mister Teacher said...

Yeah, I am a PVIB (Pseudo-Very Important Blogger) as well. I got one just the other day touting what an "Environmentally and socially responsible leader" I am because of my blog, which by the way is a "green" blog. (I thought it was blue)

Keep enjoying the free stuff! It's like being an actor at the Oscars!!

khmacski said...

Way to go Richie! I know in my bones you are a great teacher!

Anonymous said...

Peg Tyre here. Thanks for the shout-out on my book, The Trouble With Boys. I worked HARD to make it useful to parents and teachers who want the best from boys in the classroom. So glad to hear that you liked it. Lots of teachers have written to share their (mostly positive) responses and when teachers like it, I know I've done my job well.
Thanks again, VIB!
Peg Tyre

askthehomediva said...

Thanks Peg for considering me a VIB! I’m honored.