Imagine a public high school science classroom where there are no textbooks, no tests, no assigned homework. The lab is filled with extraordinarily gifted students who are hard at work on self-directed research projects that seek to find cures or treatment strategies for diseases like Lyme, Ebola, Zika and cancer. They are aided in their research by top-flight scientific instruments seldom seen in a high school setting. Their teacher’s mission is not to grade them but to support them, both in their scientific endeavors and in their personal lives. And over the course of a year, they rack up a stunning number of wins across the science fair circuit. And if this idyllic classroom sounds far outside the bounds of what most have come to expect in a public high school setting, this is precisely what makes this book both a captivating and somewhat frustrating reading experience ... It is a fascinating glimpse of a teaching environment that most public school teachers will never know.
The Class by Heather Won Tesoriero is an inspiring account of prize-winning students mentored by an outstanding high school science teacher ... More than anything,The Class is a people book. Andy Bramante is the leading character, a former scientist in private industry who left a successful career to become a high school science teacher. In 2005, he joined the faculty at Greenwich, a school of 2,500 students with high national and state rankings in academics. After teaching chemistry for a year, he began directing the science research class, which had no curriculum, tests, textbooks or lectures. It is the kind of program that few schools can afford to offer ... As inspirational as The Class may be, there is a disquieting element to it. Greenwich is a wealthy community with well-funded schools and involved parents. Reading the book, I often paused to contemplate other students in less fortunate communities with far fewer resources. Tesoriero's account should serve as a reminder of what our schools can be, everywhere in America.
Andy Bramante isn’t just a science teacher; he’s the head of the renowned honors science research lab at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, a school that has 'no curriculum, tests, textbooks, or lectures.' Bramante’s students don’t just win science fairs. Among other impressive accomplishments, they discover how to treat Lyme disease and then get full scholarships to MIT, Yale, and other prestigious colleges ... There’s Olivia, who created a low-cost Ebola test; Romano, the reformed jock working on an antibiotic-laced liquid bandage; and the astoundingly bright William Yin, a senior who developed a new test for arterial plaque buildup that could predict Alzheimer’s disease. No doubt these are remarkable individuals with impressive stories, but by chopping the book up by character and filling each chapter with science jargon, the author slows the narrative momentum. Halfway through Spring, readers may find themselves flipping back to Fall to figure out which kid is which. However, the book will prove worthwhile for those interested in innovative approaches to education. Bramante, unlike so many exceptional teachers, gets the attention he rightly deserves.