"Losing My Faculties: A Teacher's Story" is not about a perfect teacher who did wonders or was charismatic. It is a true account of a regular high school teacher in his early years of teaching and his struggle to generate a great classroom setting; his efforts fell short of ideas and methods to accomplish his goal. This teacher is none other than Brendan Halpin and the book is a memoir of Halpin's life as a teacher in different schools. The book isn't exactly inspirational, rather it is brings to the attention of the readers, the thin line that separates a teacher from a good teacher. Halpin himself was not an ideal teacher, but he feels that he is "better than others". His abilities to establish a firm bond with his students and his failures in utilizing his talents to his best in teaching are the core ingredients of the book.
Halpin begins teaching in a suburban school on the outskirts of Boston, hoping to change the lives of his students. Initially, he is met with success but that does not stay for long. His inaptitude in handling the disruptive students of the class (who were into drugs) frustrated him as a teacher. He is let down thinking he is incapable of helping his students out. His students love him and he is aware of it but, that does not help them get better. As a teacher, Halpin thinks that he isn't much influential. But what keeps him going is the feeling of being a better teacher in comparison to his colleagues who prefer the dull and mundane way of teaching to maintain an orderly class. Halpin insists on the involvement of his students for which he even conducts some classroom activities. Though he lacks the basic rudiments of teaching, he believes that it is impossible for a teacher to do a splendid job every single day. Great teaching for Halpin comes once in a while. His student-handling technique is relatively poor which often leads to chaos and mess in his classes. Halpin tries to be more of a friend to his students than a teacher which is why the anarchy prevails everywhere he teaches. The good thing about Halpin being a teacher is that, he is never seen undermining his students and their efforts, no matter what. He bitterly despises the administration, the teachers and the dull school programs they come up with because, in his opinion, it is things like these that make classroom teaching boring in the first place.
Halpin's book is more of a memoir which tells the tale of his wobbly trip as a high-school teacher for nine long years. The story is absorbing and hilarious and isn't simply meant for the teachers or parents but for a universal audience. He is quite candid regarding his drawbacks as a teacher but that does not stop him from criticizing the flaws of urban teaching. The book, in a way brings forth the sorry state of urban schools but it fails in providing any concrete suggestions on improving this system. Ironically, the author himself is not content as a teacher. He has specifically mentioned that teaching is a "frustrating" job, yet he "is in love with it". Halpin's tale of failures and successes is something that many of the young teachers of today might relate to in terms their own teaching experiences.
"Losing My Faculties: A Teacher's Story" can be read for an amusing and refreshing effect. It is filled with anecdotes from the author's real life experiences which can cause the reader to fall into uncontrollable fits of laughter. However, there are some grave issues pointed in the form of these anecdotes. As already mentioned, the book gives an insight to the beginning teachers who feel crushed working under school administrators who are far from being the idealists that these teachers expect. What a trainee teacher is taught during his or her graduation revolves around an ideal school with ideal circumstances. These ideologies however, turn out be far-fetched in the real-life education. This why, Halpin had to struggle through in his quest to become the best or the "ultimate one". The same holds true for many teachers who have just entered the profession of teaching and therefore, can relate themselves with Halpin.
This book isn't the offensive record as many people might perceive it to be. This is a realistic book with real life example that might serve as an eye opener for some and a support for others. If you know a teacher who is struggling to strike a balance between ideals and oppressive administration then this book could help you help them understand that they are not alone; there are many who have walked this road before and there will be many more.