For those of us who are teachers, we are too late! The "Nanny Diaries" of education we have always wanted to pen, has been written. Anisha Lakhani's Schooled is the story of Anna Taggert and her experiences with the world of education from the teacher's side of the desk.... well, at least if the desk is in privileged Manhattan private schools. Anna, who comes from a grounded family of well educated parents who are pleased she is graduating from Columbia, are shocked when she tells them she is going to teach. She has the drive and heart of the young, dedicated, and clueless who go into education for all the right reasons and haven't as yet been jaded by the bureaucracy and red tape! She is prepared for the reality of lesson plans, inspiring students, and smaller paychecks, or thinks she is until she really gets into the job.
Anna quickly notices that all the students, as well as an aloof teacher named "Randi"; all dress better than she does. Their Channel book bags alone cost more than a month's salary. Her walkup apartment is far from the rewards her Ivy League friends are now living in with their high paying jobs. It doesn't take Anna too long to realize that not only do the students not want to do the work she enthusiastically tries to inspire them to do, but nor do the parents whose interests only lie in the "A" grade. Their child's admission to THE "right college" with these "A" grades, as well as time to socialize outside of school, attending every party, bar mitzvah, and opening available to them is these parents' and children's priority. Anna finds that the work her students turn in, impressive as it is, is not being done by them at all, but rather by high paid tutors-VERY high paid tutors!
Her idealism is short lived as she is lured into the life tutoring can afford her. When reprimanded by the headmaster for making students actually work in class, Anna finally relents. As she connects with Randi and the golden haired mothers outside school, Anna is enticed by the designer clothes and is soon strutting into school herself in Juicy jumpsuits, with a new designer bag by her side. She spends her days off literally spending at Barney's, being hosted at swanky restaurants for lunch and dinner, and residing at a new address on Madison Avenue. Anna goes overboard as the heady feeling of this lifestyle carries her away, but it doesn't take much for reality to quickly burst her bubble and finally pop her back into the real world.
How Anna handles the precocious adolescents and parents and her whirlwind life in the fast lane of name-dropping fashion and places she is wined and dined, makes for a delightfully decadent romp in Manhattan's world of private education. Anisha Lakhani's personal connection with this real slice of the privileged life, adds a bit of authenticity to a story that most mortals, especially educators, might find hard to believe. The story entertains and is a fast, light read that keeps you going if for no other reason than to read more about a life one would like to temporarily imagine living in! Strongly recommended for an enjoyable education!
Submitted by Karen Haney, July 2008