It Couldn't Have Been the Pay: A Life of Teaching and Learning in Public Schools

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9780692450642: It Couldn't Have Been the Pay: A Life of Teaching and Learning in Public Schools
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In 1963, Irving Rothstein was a 29-year-old office bureaucrat in Sacramento, a paper-pusher bored out of his gourd. He called on an ad to work as a tutor and got his first lesson on what to do with his life.

Rothstein's memoir, It Couldn t Have Been the Pay: A Life of Teaching and Learning in Public Schools, collects his stories from more than 30 years of teaching, mostly in San Francisco. He used storytelling and humor in the classroom to teach but also to help students from all backgrounds learn about themselves and each other.

His career began in 1965 at Upward Bound when his teaching mentor at San Francisco State needed a street-wise fast mouth who could break through to kids in the program. While teaching at Woodrow Wilson in 1969, he was charged for inciting a riot at the high school championship basketball game, then made the trial a lesson for students in his civics class.

Rothstein taught at Opportunity II, but was transferred before many of his students left for Jonestown, Guyana and were lost in the tragedy there. Working in child care, he exchanged life lessons with children while he taught them arts and crafts. He was invited to a Burmese rebel camp in 1991 during the civil war to teach a storytelling workshop at a makeshift university. At Lowell High School, Rothstein made storytelling an essential part of his curriculum. He retired there in 2002.

Over the years, students, parents, teachers and others have called him Calabash, Matai, Kool Dude, and Monkey King, in addition to the names they called him behind his back. Rothstein's stories are essential reading for teachers but also for anyone who works with diverse youth. This book is an important reminder for everyone of how we really are all connected.

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About the Author:

Irving Rothstein began his teaching career in 1963 and taught mainly in the San Francisco Public School District until he retired in 2002. His writing has appeared in Tai Chi Magazine and the anthology Why I Teach. He is a lifelong member of the California Federation of Teachers. He teaches Tai Chi and is an active member in the San Francisco Jewish Community.

Review:

An inherently well written and fascinating read, "It Couldn't Have Been the Pay: A Life of Teaching and Learning in Public Schools" is a critically important memoir and should be a part of every community and academic library Education Studies and Contemporary American Biography collections. It is a refreshing personal antidote and an implied rebuke to the denigration of teaching as a profession that has been an all too familiar stance taken by political conservative, anti-intellectual elements of our state and national politics. As a reminder of the importance teachers play (and the difficulties that being a teacher incurs) "It Couldn't Have Been the Pay" is one of those extraordinary memoirs that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf. --Midwest Book Review

He's a shoulder to cry on, but he's also the guy with the concise words of wisdom that can shake you awake, make you consider the consequences of your actions, and get you to take ownership of your own life. Said another way, he's almost like a real-life Mr. Feeny (of Boy Meets World fame) the teacher that everyone wants, but almost nobody gets. --Independent Publisher

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