Prime Up the Down Staircase (English Edition)Author Bel Kaufman –

Sylvia Barrett arrives at New York Citys Calvin Coolidge High fresh from earning literature degrees at Hunter College and eager to shape young minds Instead she encounters broken windows, a lack of supplies, a stifling bureaucracy, and students with no interest in Chaucer Her bumpy yet ultimately rewarding journey is narrated through an extraordinary collection of correspondencesternly worded yet nonsensical administrative memos, furtive notes of wisdom from teacher to teacher, polio consent slips, and student homework assignments that unwittingly speak from the heart An instant bestseller when it was first published in , Up the Down Staircase remains as poignant, devastating, laugh out loud funny, and relevant today as ever It timelessly depicts a beleaguered public school system redeemed by teachers who love to teach and students who long to be recognized

15 thoughts on “Up the Down Staircase (English Edition)

  1. Gloomy_Eeyore Gloomy_Eeyore says:

    This is not my usual type of book but I thoroughly enjoyed it Giving an insight into the life of a first year teacher in a large high school, in the USA, this book has short chapters They are made up of notes from teachers, notes from pupils as well as letters from the teacher to a friend Different but thoroughly enjoyable.

  2. Anya Tafliovich Anya Tafliovich says:

    A must read for any educator This one is the best edition I ve seen.

  3. John Sproule John Sproule says:

    Excellent humor and drama from the 1960 s, 64 weeks on the New York TImes best seller list Life in a fictional inner city elementary school, with the plot told entirely with documents from class assignments, memos from the principal, and notes passed among the teachers.

  4. Marg Marg says:

    A classic I have been meaning to read Thoroughly enjoyed it Loved the format.

  5. Janice Clancy Janice Clancy says:


  6. Jennie Jennie says:

    A touching and fantastic classic Always worth a read.

  7. That Girl That Girl says:

    I just watched the movie based on this book with Sandy Dennis It is one of my favorite movies Now the movie is not a screenplay of the book The book basically is a snippet of notes, reports, memos involving the day weekly monthly events at a school and the teacher who deals with them The book shows just how challenging it can to be a teacher in a urban setting I believe much of what is written in the 1960 s is still relevant with today s teachers Bureaucracy, rules, regulations, and policies galore Would recommend this book to anyone contemplating becoming a teacher.

  8. Jill Clardy Jill Clardy says:

    I had seen the 1967 movie by the same title starring Sandy Dennis, so I jumped at the chance to read the fictional book on which the movie was based.The book is told through notes and directives and letters and memos between teachers and teachers, students and teachers, administration and teachers, and occasionally teachers and parents Miss Barrett, fresh out of college, is hired to teach English to a variety of low performing students, and teaches a full schedule in addition to managing a homeroom period She is totally overwhelmed by the crushing burden of administrative responsibilities, including attendance sheets, hall passes, performance profiles and a cacophony of bells that signal different things at different times Many of her inner city students are at risk of dropping out, have haphazard home lives, and little parental support, yet she soon learns that most are just crying out for someone to notice them, to care about them She writes that we have keys but no locks, blackboards but no chalk, students but no seats, teachers but no time to teach She balks at the drudgery and the waste and often feels frustrated and defeated She has such a crushing workload of essays and papers to grade from her 204 students, that she has no personal life at all.In spite of the overwhelming obstacles she does teach some Shakespeare and poetry and essay writing, and she wins over a few of her students, some of whom idolize her Many remain distant and critical of her, however she maintains her idealism and hope that she can reach even All she wants to do is make a difference in Room 304.Although the unconventional structure of the book told entirely through notes and letters conveys to a certain extent the chaotic, dysfunctional nature of the school and many of the students and staff, at some point in the book I just wished for some real dialogue and articulate, flowing prose The notes and memos became a bit tiresome and left too many plot questions unresolved It was still a very entertaining and enlightening novel, though no doubt some of the same battles are still being fought in the public schools to this day.

  9. Martha Horgan Martha Horgan says:

    I read this book when it first came out in the sixties and enjoyed it tremendously The characters are true to life, the problems presented are realistic Working as an educator now, I decided to reread this book and found it to be just as compelling now as it was when first written The characterizations are still realistic, the students still suffer the same problems, the staffs still try to juggle paperwork, emotional upheavals, raging hormones, and dwindling inventories, broken equipment, and ever changing standards There is no other profession that is like this, but for all the problems we see everyday, the AH HA moment makes it all worthwhile.

  10. too_old_to_be_so_indie too_old_to_be_so_indie says:

    Although this book is very much an artifact of its time the 60 s many of the scenarios described are still applicable today the challenges of being an educator, the challenges of inner city schools, the glimpse into the private lives of students The format, interspersing classdroom dialog, administrative memos, doodles, and , keeps things engaging I guess in a way the book is both of its time and ahead of its time.

  11. Karen Tarsh Karen Tarsh says:

    This was published in 1964 but I never read it until this year 2017 What a fantastic book and what an unusual but effective style It lets you know what being a teacher is like If I had read it when it came out I probably would have gone into teaching.

  12. Kot Matroskin Kot Matroskin says:

    I ve read this book as a teen and fell in love in love with it I m 30 now and turned out to be a teacher as a second profession , though not quite as good as book s main character, Silvia I do turn to this book for inspiration, especially when m well planned lesson doesn t work out and when I just fail to instill some simple knowledge into kids heads Well, the students might look like they re missing it all out, but you just never know when and how what we teach them will grow And another thing is don t expect a thank you Even those that are thankful don t realize it or don t come back to thank for whatever reason.The format of the book is awesome, it s almost like a mixed media book narrative mixed with students notes, drawings, office notes, conference minutes, etc It is also unintrusively witty and funny.It s been so many years since the book was written, but so many things just don t change.

  13. Karla Huntsman Karla Huntsman says:

    This is an easy to read, unique, and heartfelt story of a young English teacher who finds her ideals challenged at every turn The book cleverly mixes sadness, anger, chaos, and humor in a way that brings every character to life Considering the fact that it was written long before anyone knew the term instant messaging it is also very prescient Much of the story is told in notes, letters, and handouts I can just imagine the book easily translated into the 21st century by writing it as a series of texts, emails, and Facebook posts The characters stand the test of time one can still find them living in high schools today the Admiral Ass t administrator, the motherly, caring teacher, the bright but defiant student headed on a road to nowhere From the very beginning, when the teacher with a long list of goals for the day can t even get through roll call before the bell sounds, this story feels real to anyone who has sat inor stood in front ofa high school classroom.

  14. happy grandma happy grandma says:

    It s a classic, for heaven s sake It still holds up after all these years, but it makes me extremely sad as a current teacher to realize that even with all the techno gadgets and powerpoint presentations, the same problems abound poverty, depression, teen pregnancies, racism Lack of funding for public schools has continued to spiral down, while private schooling does nothing to relieve the pressures of your life if you live in the wrong zip code The book makes you wish there were teachers like Bel Kaufman.

  15. D3ruthie D3ruthie says:

    This book is old, but it s really funny The teacher simply goes through her experience as a new blundering at that teacher I liked how she was able to get through to her students having them write notes My 12 year old read it and laughed at some of the antics of the students knowing that today, they d be in a ton of trouble as they should be.