A prolific poet, novelist, biographer and critic, Parini (One Matchless Time: A Biography of William Faulkner) has also taught throughout his career. He offers fresh musings about teaching’s demands and what it takes to not lose one’s other, creative self while meeting those demands in this memoir-cum-advice book for novice instructors. The classroom, Parini writes, is “a form of theater” in which the teacher plays “wise man, fool, tempter, coach, comforter, and confessor.” Parini charts his somewhat bumpy road to the lectern and his own self-education as a poet, and suggests that intellectual hunger coupled with an ability to hold people’s attention is crucial to a teaching identity. Parini admits to being almost swallowed by the “publish or perish” monster that haunts university educators on the tenure track, and notes that writing creatively while teaching academically is a struggle, though he has found fodder amid a busy schedule of lecturing, grading, “husbanding,” parenting and living. He meditates on classroom dress code and office hours (“Once in a while, a student actually comes into my office with a question related to a course”), on conducting seminars and voicing political beliefs. Free of the usual complaints of systemic educational problems—perhaps because Parini teaches at a liberal arts college rather than a public high school—this warm guide should inform, entertain, and inspire young teachers as they seek to “waken a student to his or her potential.”

-Publishers Weekly

The Art of Teaching
By Jay Parini