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TALES OUT OF SCHOOL

Scanlon, Kathleen O'Reilly
Carp (Ont.), Creative Bound, 1992.183pp, paper, $16.95, ISBN 0-921165-24-2. CIP


Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Joan Payzant

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


Author Kathleen O'Reilly Scanlon sent letters to over one hundred newspaper editors throughout Canada inviting their readers to submit accounts of teachers who had impressed them during their school years. Tales out of School is a compilation of the replies she received, loosely categorized and grouped in seven chapters, and followed by a short epilogue and list of contributors.

As might be expected, more women than men are represented in the book, but both sexes recall inspiring as well as horrible teachers. Of the first kind were teachers who instilled a love of their particular subjects, and of education generally; some gave shy pupils self-confidence, and several, during the depression, saw that poor children had food, clothing and textbooks to enable them to continue their education, an opportunity that would have been denied to them otherwise.

The horrible teachers included those who were sarcastic, impatient and downright sadistic, using the strap unmercifully, or encouraging such cruel treatment as inciting the entire class to laugh at a terrified child who could not do a math problem on the blackboard.

A few teachers were mentioned who gained fame later on in their lives Miss Mary Grannan of Fredericton, who became "Just Mary" on CBC Radio; Ethel Bryan of British Columbia who later, as Ethel Wilson, was a well-known Canadian novelist; and Bible Bill Aberhardt, the first Social Credit Premier of Alberta.

Titles of individual selections are taken from the text of each recollection. The tales make ideal bed-time reading, taken in small doses, because too many at one sitting are a little tiresome. Probably the book will have the greatest appeal for readers past middle age, although for this generation of school children it will shed a new light on education "in the olden days."


Joan Payzant is a retired teacher-librarian in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
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