A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned

Jane Tompkins, Author, Elizabeth Maguire, Editor
Jane Tompkins, Author, Elizabeth Maguire, Editor Addison Wesley Publishing Company $22 (229p) ISBN 978-0-201-91212-8
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-201-32799-1
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-19-509273-8
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In this memoir by Tompkins, a professor of English at Duke University, there is no mind-numbing explication of favorite educational theories or classroom practices. Instead, the reader is taken inside the author's emotional education, which had its early foundation in a compelling desire to please, especially through success in school. This shaping and rewarding of intellect, which also instilled fear, is shown to have affected Tompkins's approach to her life--the grind of graduate study, the politics of becoming a professor, even withdrawal from two marriages. Through a subsequent union, a blend of professional and emotional excitement and contentment, the missing ingredients of her personality appear to have materialized. Tompkins travels painfully twisting paths by which a scholar and literary critic (West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns) came to know herself outside the academic cloister with grace and humor as she challenges universities to conceive ""education less as training for a career than as the introduction to a life."" (Nov.)
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