Image Ms. There is only one main character in the fragment of the story — Sylvia Barrett. She faces what many teachers face today: too many students, an over-worked, seemingly distant administration, nurses who can hand out only tea and sympathy, poor kids discouraged and lost.
In the s, in order to sell a story to Esquire, which took a dim view of submissions by women, she began signing her work with the more androgynous first name Bel.
The novel is epistolary ; aside from opening and closing chapters consisting entirely of dialogue the story is told through memos from the office, fragments of notes dropped in the trash can, essays handed in to be graded, lesson plans, suggestions dropped in the class suggestion box, and most often by inter-classroom notes that are a dialogue between Sylvia and an older teacher.
And to follow Sylvia Barrett on her exhausting and exhilarating trajectory was to see, in fictional form, many of the teachers I have admired for doing their valiant work in obscurity, at best, and amid societal contempt and scapegoating, at worst.They settled in the Bronx, where Belle, who spoke no English, was placed in a class of first graders. Related Papers. The antipathy toward teachers is often expressed through extolling the exceptional ones. A teacher should inspire pupils and he will be given his due for it. A true teacher ought to make pupils be involved and motivated, so that they could enlarge their knowledge. Sylvia tries to resist the methods of teaching which have been imposed on her by other teachers and supervisors. The day the story was published, Gladys Justin Carr, an editor at Prentice Hall, asked her to turn it into a book. Her daughter, Thea Goldstine, confirmed the death. Yet Kaufman composed the book in an almost presciently postmodern style, largely assembling her story through an accretion of found objects: bureaucratic circulars, homework assignments, wastebasket contents, doodles, and interoffice memos among teachers. Though they were inane enough to look real, she explained, in fact, she had invented most of them. She was also a highly visible public presence at events commemorating the work of the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, her maternal grandfather. Belle Kaufman was born on May 10, , in Berlin, where her father, Michael, was studying medicine. Also, the problem is the incompetence of teaching.
What happened? After several rejections, she sent it to Saturday Review, which published it in the Nov.