tv Book Discussion on The Battle for Room 314 CSPAN August 9, 2016 8:00pm-8:53pm EDT
>> coming up, david malpass, senior adviser for the trump campaign will join us, and the impact those plans could have on the federal budget. and then, senior political reporter for where will be be oo talk about how rare it covers news for millennial, and, watch the journal, live 7 a.m. eastern, join the discussion. ♪ >> now a special edition of book t.v., every night in august a series of programs focusing on a new subject. tonight, education. first we'll hear from ed bowl
land on his experience in new york school system then how they envision higher publication and, mo neek, the black girls in schools and, john shields discusses politics on college campuses. after that, andrew on his book the math myth. now, fundraising executive turned schoolteacher talks about his book the battle for room 314 on the lessons he learned while teaching for one year in a new york city public high school. this is just under an hour. [applause]
>> welcome. if this is your first time -- >> oh, well -- >> thank you so much for finding us. 20 years ago -- but it was lost to the upper westside. a year ago, we took the plunge, and oped our third location, and we want to thank you for come to tonight's reading, the book culture is pleased to host ed, the battle for room 314. [applause] >> joining us tonight is marie, we do not charge tickets, so we hope that you'll pick up a copy
of the book. >> we'll have ed signing upfront after wards. so wait just a moment. ed has dedicated his life to non-profit causes. as a fundraiser and communications expert. he was an admissions officer, and yale and lived in china. he was in husband, marie teaches at column we ann 234eu7 university, and, writings is writes for the guarantee dean and she was the first recipient after fellowship to south korea and was a judge -- among other things, she taught at yale.
il turn it over to them. >> of course i killed them, i killed them all. [laughter] >> this book is going to be very exciting. it's on entertainment week limit. [applause] >> it's going to be in the 'new york times', everybody look for it. i'll let you take it away. >> all right. thank you so much for come everybody. i was on fox and friends, and let me say you are all a sight for sore eyes and thank you. i wanted to thank marie, because i did the flowers in her wedding on a budget and badly and she
still talks to me. >> a terrible job i d. but she forgave me. >> you know that this relax and get comfortable. julie andrews who said let's start at the beginning, a very good place to start. so we'll start with the prolog. >> brown back exposing a baby blue thong. i leaned over and whispered, we had a deal, and you aren't holding up your end of it. she yelled back at me. what deal, mr.? in the kind of teenage voice that adults dread.
almost painful at close range. she was chewing a wad of gum that she seemed to have a piston in her jaw. it was 10 minutes before dismass sal, on a hot september, and a single fan strained to cool the classroom. its white plastic head, panned back-and-forth on her, 30 other freshmen and me, their anxious new teacher. our deal that was you would do your work and i won't call you out in public. no more drama, remember? i said in the desperate whisper, quoting a song. a pathetic attempt, to find common ground, from a gay guy, and a girl from the projects i was only five days, into my new teaching career, and precious little, in the way of learning
was getting done. she continued to hold court with a group of her girls, their chatter getting louder, and the worksheets they were supposed to be completing were left in a pile. the other groups had passed them out before ignoring them. i shot her a fierce look. she returned with a light smile. as if she were on a talk show and given the host an amusing answer. our deal was off and i was angry, so i resorted to some old school yelling. chan take get back to work now. on the other side of the room someone had hurdle a calculator, and my head snapped towards the trouble t. wasn't the only problem a group of boys were
shoving each other and two girls, mouthed lyrics while sharing the earphones after forbidden i-pod and another girl, reading, as if she were on a cruise. i heard chante's cak kel and turned to her. she was standing on top of her desk, towering above me, about to pounce. her head was surround by world currencies, that hung from an economic mobile i had done over the summer. i started to feel squeezy and light-headed. no, it wasn't supposed to happen like this. chante sit down, all eyes were now darting back-and-forth like spectators, she laughed and
coked her head and then she slid her hand to her upper thighs, and formed a long cylinder and shook it, and what the hell was she doing. >> she lead me in the i and said suck my if you. [bleep] done i stood frozen in front of the class. i didn't know a room full of humans were capable of making that much noise. it sounds like a hollywood laugh track, laugh and and then the pause and oh, no she didn't. and he can't even control the girls. jesus glanced at her and grinned. proud of the talent.
i had always admired a filthy mouth especially on a woman and i thought, too shay i was not talking "smack" and this was a class and i was her teacher and i yanked, and frantically searched for a professional response. if i were to go eight, it would show, if i underreacted i would appear passive, and invite more trouble. but nothing came to me. nothing at all. i stood there paralyzed and my legs were hidden inside my brand new pair of doctors. i was so unfamiliar with the feeling of fear that i barely recognized t. chante fingered me
not only as gay bull as her and sadly base it was a girl it was viewed as a great humiliation for me. so much for there being the easy ones to control, the girls. even the way she blocked the screen with her towering on top of her desk. the final touch, that was she didn't know my name. it wasn't worth remembering, just mr. i should have walked out of the building, hailed a cab and gone to the unemployment office. >> game over. how had things gotten so bad so quickly? so i want to take you towards the end of the book. this is about a field trip part of our world relig general, we
were going to a mosque, a boast different and a a synagogue. >> i was most concerned about mickey. he was among my most disruptive student. here we go. we arrived late and rowdy at the temple. the temple until new york. at the visitors center i checked in with a security guard, he wanted to see where all the noise was coming from. he rolled his eyes, and when he saw it, terrorizing a hotdog vendor outside. a few minutes later, out came, hunch but percky she was kissing and 5' 2, with smart cork wedges. she lead up at me through oversized glasses and asked me, a few questions, as the screams and shouts.
i told her, spoke, frantic limit sometimes, they get so out of hand and they don't mean half of what we say. there's this one kid, she fixed me with pa stare. don't you worry about a thing. oh, now listen to me. we entered the sanctuary which took up almost an entire city block. the kids were awestruck. most of them were used to the storefronts or the low rent kingdom halls. and, they filed into the pews quiet licks mickey sat in a row by himself. >> with one smooth gesture
pulled a high-tech wireless headset down over her ear to her mouth. that is it, thank you, she said. the blasting organ went silent. it was clear who ran the show here. she then held court about her faith, and the temple and as she promised they listened to her. i should have been delighted but i was ashamed. what does she got that i ain't got? are they cutting her slack because she's old, female? the last time i tried to lecture five minutes there was unrest. and here they were, listen, like they were the temple sisterhood. what gives? question? my abdomen tightened.
>> he through up his hands how much does it cost to you these place every month? >> what was, no one has ever asked me that before and i don't know. probably a lot. it may have seemed like a bizarre question but it was logical for a kid whose mother was struggling for a basement apartment. >> how do you change a light bulb up here? she just chuckled. are you jewish? >> what a silly question. of course, i'm jewish. >> well that will security guard he doesn't look jewish to me. >> wait, why do jews love black-and-white so much? >> oh, you mean the -- i love black-and-white cookies.
>> the jews invented oreos and looked more puzzles. no wonder they're so rich. >> i was relieved to see mickey staring into space. i didn't take heed to their choice of clouding. with a sweep of her hand she alluded to her dress with pride. many of our students come from the low eastside and they're referring to the hasidic community. she seemed eager -- that's a good question. no like things very old-fashioned. william, wise ass took his shot. do you hate all muslims? why i don't hate anybody. >> before she could finish she was drowned by out by mick kicks screaming from the last row.
i cringed, i knew this was coming. you dum bishop they are related through daddy abraham. it's family feud and it's been that way, what's the matter with you? [laughter] >> the sacred setting was perfect of the i was speechless. mickey of all people had listened to something in class. mickey asleep. with the head phones on, with his head forever out the window, how did that sink in? i was shocked he eastern knew my name. [laughter] >> what else was he manage to go learn? my mind raced maybe they were all getting it. faking it.
just to torture me. maybe there was hope after all. as i was leaving, the hopeful idea, i realized all eyes were on me, waiting for me. i heard myself giving a reprimand but i was still enjoying my tiny victory. as we went onto the street,, a passage, flashed into my head, planning was right, sometimes suddenly, there is god, so quickly. so, we're on our way back from the field-trip. maybe it was the warm spring air, or being liberated. but romans, and vulgar righty were in the air. >> singles were flirting up a storm.
to my surprise the attention was turned my way. hey, you got a girlfriend? no. i answered, for probably the 200th time. from the beginning i had always vowed, i would never lie but i hadn't been asked grel. jackson, asked me what no one asked, have you got a bye friend? without much thought i answered, with a simple yes. i realized what i said, as i was, as it was leaving my mouth. i lacked the energy or the will to brace myself. i had already been fed to the crowd. i looked into the sun and waited for the onslaught. i heard amount short giggle, a
tiny gasp, and mostly silence. have you got a picture? i pulled out my phone, which add tiny sticker photo of sam on the back. smaller than a postage stamp. they gathered and inspected the image with care and intensity as if they had uncovered a rare coin. oh, his boyfriend is black! [laughter] >> no, actually, he's not. >> his -- no, he's jewish. >> oh, mr. bowl land's boyfriend is rich. [laughter] >> the boy said, no, i said, he
actually doesn't make very much money. >> jewish, that's right i heard what -- they're jewish. [laughter] >> then he said, does he got a big dick? >> i conjured the last bit and tried to get some dignitism that's really inappropriate. yeah, tell us about that. yeah, someone said. >> they chanted. the chinese mothers, gave us a wide shot. the chorus grew louder, but it wasn't the hateful chants of the lord of the flies. it was jolly and real and human and it seemed happy for me.
where was all that hate? why hadn't i done this from the start? i blushed. i was standing on east broadway surrounded by a group of thug teens who were chanting about my boy friend's junk. who had i become that this was migrate moment with my students? >> victory, by name. [applause] >> i need moment to catch my breath. i know ed from, he was one of our first board members, at the workshop which, passed its 25th
birthday. so, a bunch of us were in our 20s and we form they had organization, which today, it's great. and we -- ed came to donate his time because he was a professional, an executive. so i have known ed all these years as the one, non writer, of the writer's workshop. he is still that will agent. [laughter] >> so, i was so thrilled when i got my advanced copy of this and i got, you can see, too, like you, i was laughing, and crying, and, through the whole thing. i kept going, my husband, i read it. >> no, it's so free. but what i want to bring us back
to, is i think also, this book is going to be kind of -- inflammatori but it's really this dispatch it was made from s hell hole where people who want to help children, are up against it. you know, benefit came i thought let me just take ap sentence, this is as sentence. given freddie's reputation and confirmed criminal record i was afraid to have him in my class. so i think the first question i want to ask you is, about failure? being writer is all about failure, and not something that you want to hear about from our teachers. >> no, i think americans, i think they really hate failure
and i don't love it. but i will tell you my you are against need to tell this story and process this experience was so great that it other came my shame of failure. that tells you a lot. i had never written a word until i twhroat book. that tells you how i needed to process this and i was willing to put failure on the line. because the greater message. people need to know. >> itit is not just mr. chips. not stand and deliver. >> or freedom riders. >> yeah, so, what -- about when you are writing it, you're a white guy. and your students are all different colors.
tell us more about, what was it that, like, facing that challenge. >> the biggest challenge i had, is i promise fed i was going to do it, i was going for try and go against type of the hero teacher. we are all so drawn in, by that myth. turn that classroom around in 90 minutes and it makes for grate t.v. and crappy policy. so everyday i was at odds with my own performance. and expectations of what i had hoped to do. >> you had just gotten out of a career change and graduate school. >> i was a star on paper, i was a much south after teacher, i was not effective at all. going back to your point, here i
was, could not have been more different in backgrounds, i believe, at heart that anybody can learn from anybody. you know, 70-year-old nuns, were in robes, and i didn't know they were people. i learned from them. but, i also say, yes, anyone can learn from anybody, but kids respond to role-models and people whose lives were similar to their own. i wish that i -- our teaching force more closely reflected people, the students, that they're teaching. on the one hand anyone can learn but we need to have role-models, and, people who the kids can relate to better. it was a barrier. >> so, this is called your year of hope, and despair.
so you lasted a year, and gave it your all. so what are you going to do, i want to be teacher -- >> with this glook someone said that to me, aren't you afraid you're going scare away everyone. i would have been better prepared and more realistic. and i would have been tougher and ignored a lot of what i heard in graduate school. just create fascinating lesson plans. and kids respond to. they'll just respond for your professionalism. and, you should assign best
intentions to everything students do. so you may see students doing this, and what's the best intention you can find? watching someone really, pummel another student. what are the best intentions? >> so, yes. >> people have a knee sha that there were once that age. your book is getting a lot of press. i'm curious what kind of response, you are getting? >> the response that has shocked me the most has been several of my former student, have written to me to apologize. that's not what i was looking for.
i apologized to them. i refused to accept their apology. and one kid said, which really broke my heart. he said we were just kids. and everybody needs to know that what am i, when i had that big "new york post" article, and hate about these terrible kids and they were described in the worst terms. some people said they were animals. and hey, how dare you judge? how dare you judge those kids you don't know the half of it. but you don't know the half of it. so that was -- very telling. >> let me ask you two more questions, and, the audience, a few questions. so your style, hope and despair, as i was laughing and crying.
got a lot of despair, i would love to hear some hope. >> there are stories of hope. the school that i taught was a school for international studies, and they tried to teach cricket instead of basketball, in gym. and we taught chinese instead of french. there was one student, who is not profiled him in the book and guess what, he embraced the study of chinese. he worked hard. he was not the very top but he was a top kid and he went onto college. i think he was only one of three of 90 kids who graduated with a degree in business. he is living in china now. working for a leather company, and he's, he just sent me picture of he and his girlfriend on vacation. so i'm so thrilled. it worked for this kid.
my second story is there was a co-worker of mine, a fellow student teacher who we were in the graduate program together and we went to the same place for student teaching, and he is here tonight. i have to tell you, he became a master teacher. he has excellent results on the exams. he loves it, and he's a great teacher. he was a better history student and a better teacher than i was. there are people who can do what i can't do. they are super-human. but, hats off to them. those are my two success stories. [applause] >> my last question for you, is so over the last 25 years, ed would be, you guys are the writers. and he has been hide it go under
the bush she will. >> yeah. that's nice. oh, my god. you are such a writer. i want to hear what you are working on next? >> a little on forms. but i grew up in rochester new york. it's been known as smug town. so, tales from smug town. it is going to be about coming of age, memoirs. i think. >> some questions. >> i thought your book was terrific because you didn't -- i'm sorry. i thought your book was terrific because you were truthful and you told the best of your ability what you observed. you don't see that, in many books written by teachers.
i have two-points to make about what you said before. very often, we hold teachers to a standard like if you don't measure up to that standard, you are a failure or it's like if we held every physician up to albert, they won't be, and it's so unfair how teachers get characterized. and he got a heart attack and almost died. >> yes. >> but then the other thing, i do have one disagreement with you, it is that, i don't think it's true that a teacher has to reflect the ethnicity of the student he or she is teaching. i don't believe that. because if we did, we would start hiring teachers on the basis of that and i think there's a lot more room for
teachers to succeed, teaching anybody. i will disagree. >> i wouldn't say it is a requirement. but it's more helpful. anybody can learn from anybody. but, at the same time, when you look at, the proportions of o are out of whack f. we can get closer to representation, that would be better. we need more role-models. >> i can understand having worked for the board of ed myself, on a good number of years i can understand why you would to want leave it. [laughter] >> the kind of rapport that you did establish tells me that you were a good teacher. you had heart and soul and
shared it with them. that's great. i also love your writing. >> thanks, i appreciate that comment. but here's, but, a teacher's first job is to inculcate knowledge. they knew i cared about them. and they knew that. and that i was really trying. they said, you know what you need to try -- [laughter] >> here's the thing, but -- but i didn't teach them history. that was my first job. i was a good guy but job one has to be that they leave there with some understanding of the subject. the chaos was too overwhelming except for mickey. [laughter]
>> i'm retired new york city public schoolteacher. i found the reaction of the audience incredibly painful. >> the audience tonight. >> yeah. because having to sit through that -- that's all i have to say. i realize, i realize that you wanted to read in a humorous manner. but, it's not humorous. >> no. >> i taught first grade class, i had two kids who had been raped. one boy and one girl. i many, ps1 34. i don't know where you were. >> lower eastside.
>> junior high school. >> yes. >> it's the worse part. >> i would rather not eight neighborhood. let me say this. it's not funny. >> when i first showed the writing to many people in my group, they, people didn't want to finish t. it was so grim. and people told me, if you want anyone to read that book you have to find a way to lighten it. if there's one thing i know about teachers, you develop, humor. and it is one of the best coping mechanisms that you can have. when you read the whole book you will see that there is plenty of very dark and sad stories, that i think will inspire people. but, i wanted to make it readable.
one put a post it and she said, i don't want to read this any more. >> respectful. >> yes. >> the reaction i have gotten is, they felt that way. and also, they saw, they were excellent pat seating humor in everything. >> thank you. >> excuse me. i find myself laughing but this is dead serious. i did not get the impression that you, in any way made light of the situation you were in. i think it is, by nature, rather absurd the whole situation, these kids, in poverty, and i think at the end of the book you wrapped it up by saying in a challenge to us to fix the the
circumstance. na allows children to come to school, like you said, "i find it amazing they show up at all. i just wanted to say, as a person, i echo the sentiments, i felt sad. the fact that, the way that you wrote, is going to make more people read it. in one of the richest cities we live with a true travesty, and children and families are subjected to what -- >> i could walk away after a year. they don't have the luxury. >> i did to want ask the question. you mentioned the teacher preparation. i was interested if you would speak about the support or the lack there of that you received at your school and, specifically, if you have any
opinion's the contracts that the teachers unions and the bridges samples unions they have and whether or not you felt that that held people back from a sporting you. >> first, the teacher preparation. it has to be so much better. and, you know, to see, i think, in all of my graduate school programs, there was one hour devoted to classroom management. that's the one skill everybody needs most. i was learning really, educational things that had nothing. and these teachers -- this is just not what we need. in terms of the mentoring, we had, they tried to do first year teacher mentoring, and it was ever changing you can and each with a different philosophy. i got so much advice, it was just baffling.
>> did you have ap principal -- >> i loved it, vice principal sample. outside experts. and no -- no one was helpful. the contract, i enjoyed the protection. union and teachers need good unions. [applause] >> hats off to teachers because we ask the impossible of them. there were times when i felt that the contract was absurd. the fact that, it was broken down into 30 second increments. or the fact that we fry deed, an inno vegas to teach longer hours, with smaller classes and that was stifled.
i where i in the chapter, my day with little kim. so there was one day when i created a lesson which didn't seem different than the other lessons. and this one was, little kim, did she receive justice under the roman law. if she had been back in the day, and arrest, would she have gotten just items. i tried to where i a lot of cool lesson plans, but the stars aligned, and, the kids walked in, and they read this long article. they did the worksheets and they debated and they were saying
self incrime nation and trial by jury. and, this is the first day, that, he would not have me arrested. and, so yeah there were other highlights. that was one great day. >> a few moments like that is what keeps us teaching. >> graduate school, theory into practice i always heard that. when i went into the classroom, theory into practice. they are not listening. we're forgetting the bigger picture. it stems from the home. the students are come in with all these problems. it stems from the home. that creates bigger conversation and income, and, everything that comes into play. so, that's my take. i haven't read the book.
but i'm looking forward to it. so that's what i wanted to say. >> every time i have had a media opportunity, when i am trying to hammer home is yes, we can and we must do everything within the four walls of the classroom. but guess what? at the end of the day, the real route of failure is poverty. and we will never be able to -- we can put the best people, the lap dispops we can do all of that but we will -- progress. there's progress being made. but we will hit a wall until we address the underlying factors of poverty. [applause] >> they have a 4% child poverty rate. the richest country in the world has 22%.
so, let's be like finish land. that is what i was going ask about. so many callses of the failure. i was intrigued about the three kids that went onto graduate from college. you said you didn't know him well. was there something that you could see, in both kids who did? >> he had a father who pushed him. and pirbled im h. and he had pride and he was naturally smart. but he had a father who was really pushing him. she's here n.i. the student who i am most in awe of, is a young woman tbhofs foster care who is -- getting a college degree at 2%, and, she persisted and,
has a degree from a 4-year college and that's extraordinary. [applause] >> hello my name as many mary and i worked withed ed. i read somethings in the post and people giving him a lot of abuse. he was with one of the hardest working teachers. and his lessons were amazing. it was a really difficult school. i think if he would have stuck with it or been in a different environment, he would have been one of the best. so you can say a you want, about his book but he cared. every day, right up until the very end. a lot of kids did respond but they told me, and they would tell me things. [laughter] >> so i know he thinks he was a failure but i don't think he was
a failure. [applause] >> thank you. >> i am always veteran of the school system. i was in the public school system for over 30 years, teacher of history. assistant bridges sample and now i'm dean of teaching training and i went back to full professor. >> moving on up. >> so, i have a -- i agree with a lot of things you said. in fact i add similar experience when i first started. i started in junior high school and given the worst class. i had a little old lady next to me, in another room. and i walked into the room, bedlam all over the place and she walks into the room you hear a pin drop.
i wanted to quit. what does she have? >> but i stuck with it. i'm, i agree if you would have stuck to it, you would have been very effective. my point is that, having been on the inside now, in terms of you remember experiences, with not only the school system but also the teacher training that you got, if you the power, because i haven't seen many changes since started. going around and round, with the gap. so, to wait for the poverty rate to go down, it's a long-term proposition. so, my question is, having been on the inside, if you had power to make any changes, in either teaching training or the school system, what would do you?
>> so, within teacher training, i wish i spent almost all of my hours either directly observing or what wering on video, master teachers. we have chalk and textbooks. no examples. and they would say, you need to spend 150 hours observing teachers. and then they would say go find them. well, you know, i went out there and i found some really good, medium and terrible teachers. why isn't anyone showing me a master teacher. what happens when she climbs on top of that desk instead of giving me the theory. it was developing right in front of me. so, i -- i do think it has, the training would be more experience, and viewing best
practices. >> i do have to say i think that many of the charters schools are embracing practices that are, that, the longer school day, the longer school year. and supplemental activity. saturday school. i think a lot of best practices, they're wonderful lab bra tores. and, thank everybody for come. one last question. >> do you think it would be helpful if there was more families on discipline. i started in 1991 and i left in 2012. the time that i was there, what i saw was when i started, there was much more emphasis on
classroom discipline and as the years evolved there was less. that's where i think things went to hell. i remember doing a contract for my class and my assistant principal said you can't do it. if students misbehave and they're ejected, they will fail the course. you can't say that any more. up until that time i taught my class the way i was taught. and i was told this is not, you cannot use those. but those techniques were working and then, i was told you can't do this, and a year later the kids were saying, you can't say that and do that. that's not allowed. it was unbelievable. we should go back to the way things were, and forget all this the kids have all these problems and issues and now they're talking about the number of black and hispanic meals that are suspenfr