cover image To Teach: The Journey, in Comics

To Teach: The Journey, in Comics

Ryan Alexander-Tanner, William Ayers, . . Teachers College Press, $15.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-8077-5062-9

Quinn is a pudgy and energetic boy, whose enthusiastic embrace of snack time prompts a school administrator to label him “hyperactive disordered.” His teacher, however, notes, “it's too easy to caricature every excitable African-American boy as 'at risk' ” and goes on to identify Quinn's many strengths and then persistently encourage them. That teacher is Bill Ayers, the school reform activist and a cofounder of the Weather Underground who got so much attention during the Obama campaign. Ayers is all teacher in this graphic novel ode to the power and potential of his profession. Alexander-Tanner's black and white ink drawings show a classroom in full bloom with activity and learning, while Ayers's text offers pointed discussions of what's wrong with the current state of education in this country. Ayers doesn't just present critiques like the one relating to Quinn that “labeling students has become an epidemic in our schools”; he also shows the methods he uses “to develop a permanent readiness for the marvelous” in his classroom. With plenty of anecdotal examples, he demonstrates ways of opening up a child's eagerness to learn. This fascinating and, yes, educational book will certainly be of interest to teachers, but it will also teach, inspire, and entertain anyone else who picks it up. (May)