David Menasche , author of The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons, didn’t sit at home when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. When he was no longer able to teach due to the cancer and blindness, he travelled around the country to see his students and he truly got to see the impact he had made in their lives.
The book is the story of his 101 day adventure visiting his former students. He relates how The Priority List was his student’s favorite lesson in which they prioritized 26 abstract words like love, power, and spirituality. He taught English in southern Florida, but his students recalled the conversations, the life lessons, and his insights more than the content of the class.
The Guardian released an article in March noting that Steve Carrell is producing the movie based upon this book.
When I read David’s book back in January, I knew it was important for him to speak his story to the audience of Every Classroom Matters. So often, we as teachers forget both that we matter and also that sometimes the most important lessons aren’t those from a book.
Book Review of the Priority List by David Menasche
This wasn’t an easy read for me but the story was raw and authentic. Teachers have tough situations to deal with every day and David had more than his fair share. Certainly some of the issues in this book will be controversial to many. But working with students is messy. Helping them become adults is hard. Being a teacher who helps kids find their way without imposing our own will and belief systems upon them is important. Students have choices and we must help them make their own way. David does that.
By the time I did this interview, I was exhausted and overwhelmed just because David deals with edgy stuff including death – the specter of which most people choose to ignore. You’ll find yourself asking questions and making choices in your classroom that will make you a better person and your students better people as well. While I’m not saying I always agree with his advice to kids – few of you would agree with all of mine either, I do agree that teachers make a lasting difference. I also think more literature teachers should use this priority list approach and worked on the show to get more about this teaching method so you could use it.
Thank you to David for his bravery and coming on the show.
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Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly podcast by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network dedicated to excellent education. Listening will help you teach with better results, lead with a positive impact, and live with a greater purpose. Subscribe.
Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff, Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters.