Teacher (Gabbie Stroud, A&U)
Gabbie Stroud always wanted to be a teacher. Her childhood teachers changed her life, and she wanted to do the same for others. This memoir weaves together a broader look at Stroud’s life with her time working as a teacher. We follow her from idealistic teacher-in-training, through stints teaching overseas, struggles with troubled students and clashes over resourcing and bureaucracy, to her eventual disillusionment with and departure from the profession. Stroud first achieved attention with her essay ‘Teaching Australia’ for the Griffith Review, where she decried the increasing emphasis on standardised testing and the devaluing of teaching as a profession. This book expands on this topic, exploring one teacher’s experience as the pressures of spiraling workloads and administrative expectations take away from the relationships, which are the real heart of teaching. As an ex-teacher myself, this book hits close to home. Stroud does a sterling job of conveying both the highs and lows of the job, from knowing that you’ve changed a life forever to fearing you can never do enough. Impassioned, empathetic and eloquent, Stroud’s work should be widely read: teachers will recognise much of what she covers, and others—including, hopefully, policy-makers—will come to understand how passionate and talented teachers will leave the jobs they love in a flawed system.
Heath Graham is a teacher and former bookseller