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More about A Gift of Wonder:
Perhaps, long ago, a teacher made a difference in your life. She took the time to support you as an individual and made learning come alive.
Your teacher could do this because she was trusted to use her judgment. Today, in the predominant educational environment, where high-stakes testing and anxiety reign, only twelve percent of teachers report that they are allowed a high level of professional freedom. This story shows why this is a loss for students today and offers a picture of schooling where teachers can, again, make a difference.
Yet this book is not a polemical treatise. Kim Allsup is a teacher and a teller of stories, and so, to look only at the surface, this memoir tells the story of a teacher shepherding a group of children from grade one through six. However, it does much more than that. Sharing the developmental journey through the heart of childhood, it is funny, poignant, moving, relatable, and finally, life affirming, and hopeful —a captivating book for parents, teachers and anyone who enjoys a good story.
Focusing on the story of her class, she saves her one policy recommendation until the last chapter where, as a single note proposing the return of professional freedom to teachers, it rings loudly in the context of a story that shows why this matters.
Intended as a creative statement about ways to improve public schooling, A Gift of Wonder is, ironically, set in an independent school. And why should it not be? Children everywhere deserve to be motivated by wonder rather than the pressure common in schools today. Why should public education not be modeled after highly successful schools where teachers are trusted?
A Gift of Wonder is a book for readers, parents, grandparents, teachers and those interested in protecting childhood.
Readers enjoy the teaching moments, the humor, and the moving story of children and a teacher growing together over six years.
Parents gain insights about their own children as they read about the stages of childhood and remember what it means to be seven years old or nine or twelve. Reading A Gift of Wonder is an easy way to develop an understanding of the developmental stages of childhood. Just as a professional farmer has much to teach the home gardeners about how to nurture plants, parents will find that a professional educator has an important perspective about nurturing children to share with parents. A Gift of Wonder asks and answers these questions:
–Should we always answer questions posed by children?
–Should we praise children frequently?
–Why is the experience of wonder vital to a healthy childhood?
–What can we learn from listening to children?
–Why does a nine year old need real work?
Teachers who read A Gift of Wonder find encouragement to let go of the lesson plan when a student looks off into the distance, raises her hand and begins to lead the class into an awe-inspiring question or observation. The value of intrinsic motivation is a central theme throughout the book.
As Ken Robinson says, “Teaching is a creative profession, not a delivery system.” The real classroom stories in A Gift of Wonder show teaching as the creative profession is is meant to be.
Those seeking a more meaningful school experience for children will find here a story worth sharing, a vision that shows why testing and rigid standards are not the way to improve schools.
Told in an easy to read style, this book is actually a page turner.
This turned out to be the best book I’ve read in a long time. It has the emotional impact of a book of fiction, and the educational value of a non-fiction book.
Throughout the book, Allsup explains how each age – therefore grade – is so different. For example, we learn what to expect from a nine year old and what s/he is capable of understanding. This knowledge of the developing child is important not only for teachers, but parents at home after school and parents who home school.
What impressed me was Allsup’s constant observation of each child throughout the day and then bringing those memories into her meditation each evening as she reviews the child’s progress and prepares for the next day.
I was surprised, somewhat, that the focus of the book was not on the details of Waldorf education, but a view of the big picture behind engendering a love of learning and blossoming of the early sense of wonder that is natural to all young children.
The book is available from the publisher
And signed from the author.
To order a signed copy from a US address, send $25 with your name and address and any signing instructions to: Kim Allsup PO Box 3273, East Falmouth, MA 02536 or order by Pay Pal here:
Signed Book, A Gift of Wonder, A True Story Showing School as it Should Be
This inspirational teaching memoir is for parents and teachers and anyone who cares about the future of education.