Up The Down Staircase


Bel Kaufman

I downloaded the book Up The Down Staircase in audio format by accident, but what a lucky accident it was.  This book was first published in 1964 by teacher Bel Kaufman and tells of the challenges facing urban public schools.  What is both interesting and saddening about Up The Down Staircase is that these issues still exist today. 

The book is based on the work of the high school students whether through short essays, notes, excuses and other homework.  Also included in the book are notes between the protagonist Sylvia Barrett, a new teacher, and her more seasoned peers.  The book title: Up The Down Staircase is a clue itself as to the absurdity of the administrative rules and regulations that teachers must follow.

While this book is written with a sense of humor, make no mistake, Up The Down Staircase addresses the issue of deteriorating school systems and the inability to truly help students beyond the classroom.  It’s a reminder of the value of a good education and that many people don’t receive that benefit. 

Up The Down Staircase provides a needed dose of reality of a societal problem that still exists today.  I was grateful that my accidental download provided me with a reality check.