If Holden Caulfield Were in My Classroom - Bernie Schein














Bernie Schein is a genius—the best teacher I have ever seen.


—Pat Conroy,
bestselling author of The Water Is Wide


If Holden Caulfeild Were In My Classroom

Stories of Teaching and Learning

Bernie Schein

Foreword by Pat Conroy


By the time Bernie Schein’s students arrive in his middle school classroom, they are little more than a gaggle of psychological defense mechanisms. For over thirty years, Schein has worked with students in middle-class Atlanta, helping them rediscover who they really are.

With humanity, humor, and compassion, Schein gets his students to reveal the secrets of their lives, helping them through this joyous and difficult endeavor. Through stories from his classroom, he describes how true emotion, rather than pure reason, is the key to discovering real relationships and personal truth. His account is psychologically sensitive, socially accurate, and will be a real eye-opener for parents.

Schein received his Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard, and has been a principal, a director of teacher training, and a teacher of creative writing and literature at the middle school and high school levels.

You can order If Holden Caulfield Were in My Classroom at SentientPublications.com.

“I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve read a book on a subject as boring as education and laughed as hard as I have reading this one. Author Bernie Schein has many decades of experience in the classroom, and doesn’t mind sharing a few opinions on the modern testing culture, nonsensical political agendas, and interpretation of contemporary lit. He is blunt, profane, brilliant and loving; a strange mixture of Lenny Bruce and Albert Schweitzer. Above all, he is a teacher in the old-fashion sense of the word (and to my mind, a modern American hero.) He is absolutely dedicated to awakening his student’s reasoning abilities and instilling in them the joys (and pitfalls) of living in community, and having the courage to actually feel. Recommended reading for parents, grandparents and teachers of any stripe, particularly college of education students who have never been in charge of a class room. For them, it is mandatory reading and really, just hugely entertaining.”—Janis Owens, author of My Brother Michael

“Schein helped start and for many years taught at Paideia School, a private school in Atlanta. He was previously the principal at three different schools and has been an educational consultant throughout his career. Schein here details his interactions with several of his students, highlighting his unique method of teaching—he’s able to draw out students’ true emotions, what they’re most afraid to tell anyone, and he explains how doing that liberates them and improves their academic performance. Schein believes his methods will work in any school, but they will be harder to follow in public schools owing to less flexible curriculum, time constraints, risk of parental complaints (Schein’s students openly discuss sexual issues), and other controls put on public school teachers. There is no doubt that Schein’s methods have merit. Teachers should have access to this book to consider adapting Schein’s style of teaching to improve their own students’ performance. Recommended for most public and academic libraries.”—Library Journal

“This book is compelling, not just because Bernie knows these kids so well, but because he is so good at putting into words what they think and feel and say.”—Frank Pittman, author of Grow Up!

“With this bold, intimate story about the power of love, authenticity, and caring to ignite real education, Bernie Schein offers us a front row seat in his classroom—if we can stand the heat. And Schein’s formula is so simple: He midwives the innate wisdom and goodness of his students by risking to be himself and making it safe for them to do the same. Every teacher in America should read this book.”—Chris Mercogliano, author of Making It Up As We Go Along, Teaching the Restless, How to Grow a School, and In Defense of Childhood

“Impressive…He listens.”—Newsweek

“This is the creative process, the stuff of art…Has exuberantly blazed new trails in education.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Bernie Schein delivers a powerful message of hope for the youth and families of America.”—Mark Rosenberg, former U.S. Assistant Surgeon Genera

“Bernie Schein is a fire-carrier and a bliss-follower. He has altered almost every life he has touched with his light.”—Anne Rivers Siddon, author of The Girls of August