(Image: Authors Own)
Frank Chalk is a teacher in a fairly poor inner city school- a school where the kids get drunk, take drugs and beat up the teachers… when they can be bothered to turn up.
He confiscates their porn, booze and trainers, fends off angry parents and worries about the few conscientious pupils.
Terrifying and hilarious, IT’S YOUR TIME YOU’RE WASTING is Chalk’s real- life diary from the front line of the modern edukashun system.
I haven’t written a book review in years. Eeeek….
I have had this book a number of years and it is one of the few books I have read over and over again. I bought it at a time when I really wanted to be a teacher (before I saw sense). It’s Your Time You’re wasting was published by a small book publisher Monday Books, known for publishing real life books. The book narrated by Frank Chalk (not his real name, probably to save his sanity) goes through the tale of his time as a supply teacher at St Jude’s which is based in the Cherry Tree Estate. He tells us tales of sloppy staff and even sloppier school children all of this which is punctuated with descriptions of the Cherry Street estate so you get to understand why the children behave like they do.
The story is easy to read as it is in a chatty style, there isn’t any chapters as such, there is just one tale after another all following each other (I have noticed this is the style of writing in other books Monday has published). The author doesn’t feel sorry for himself either, you just let the story wash over you as you find yourself laughing and sinking into despair at the naughty children and feeling really sorry for those poor children who are just trying to get on with life.
The book hit a chord with me because you can see through Frank’s eyes how the education system has failed the children. This is through two ways. One the lack of support at home. Frank visits a few children homes to tutor them and he see’s the effect of constant TV, fast food, the lack of books and interest from the parents resulting in the children being disengaged with anything that is longer than two minutes. The result of this being children who vandalise school property, not being able to understand school work and being downright nasty to anyone. You could argue that his book reinforces stereotypes, through the names of the children and the description of the council estate. But this is the reality of modern Britain as it is repeated through books like this one and on programmes on the TV such as Tough Young Teachers. So disillusioned is Frank with the school that he tells parent’s of a child to move to a better school. However, I feel that the author is realistic and what comes across well is Frank wants to teach but with the children not accepting responsibility, there doesn’t seem the point.
To conclude, this book is well worth a read if you want to while away an afternoon or want some escape. If you truly hate your job this book may also be of use, as by the end of reading you may think your job isn’t too bad 😉
The ones I have read however have been a real mixture of good and bad. As you will see below:
Wild- Cheryl Strayed
Wild tells the story of Cheryl Strayed a woman who after her mother died from cancer decided to trek the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) to help find herself. Cheryl had no prior hiking experience and the PCT trail is one of the hardest in America.
Therefore for Cheryl to get through the trail meant that anything is possible. Her story was raw and didn’t hold back. The descriptions of the wildlife she walked through made me want to go and experience the PCT for myself and by understanding her life story you can see why she made the mistakes she did.
Since I Don’t Have You – Louise Candlish
Possibly the worst book I have read in a while. This book was so bad I have had to refer back to it to remember the main character’s name! Rachel makes a pact with two of her best friends Jenny and Marial that each other would look after children if anything happened to each other. Fast forward a few years the children are six and at school. One day Rachel’s child goes on a school trip and dies in a minibus crash.
Therefore to escape Rachel decides to fly to Santorina (she has always been interested in Santorina because her mother was born there). To keep her pact she decides to hire a private investigator (creepy I know!) to check up on her friends and their children. The book was just boring I wasn’t interested in the descriptions of Greece, I found the whole private investigator thing really didn’t work and the way it was written, it was a drag to get through. I didn’t even finish the book. One for the Donation box!
The Children’s Act- Ian McEwan
This book follows a QC who has to make a difficult decision regarding a religious woman and son’s young life. The book was better then I thought it would be. Written in Ian McEwan’s signature style where you pretty much have to concentrate through the entire book ( it’s not a light read!) it delivers a book that is a mixture of religion, love and morals.
Tales From The Ringroad- BBC
Ok it’s not a book it is a radio series on BBC Radio 4. Essentially a different ringroad in the country is chosen each week and several people tell their story which has a connection with the ringroad.One episode was about the ringroad in Coventry. A man who was driving on the road one night got hit by a car who was driving in the opposite direction. Another story based in Wolverhampton was about a man who lived on the ringroad in a tent. It’s one to listen when you are on the commute home. It does sound a bit out there (stay with me on this!) but it isn’t that bad and is quite interesting. If all else fails the soothing voice will put you to sleep.