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This graphic novel brings to life William Ayers’s bestselling memoir To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, Third Edition. From Ayers’s early days teaching kindergarten, readers follow this renowned educational theorist on his “voyage of discovery and surprise.” We meet fellow travelers from schools across the country and watch students grow across a year and a lifetime.

To Teach is a vivid, honest portrayal of the everyday magic of teaching, and what it means to be a “good” teacher—debunking myths perpetuated on film and other starry-eyed hero/teacher fictions. Illuminated by the evocative and wry drawings of Ryan Alexander-Tanner, this graphic version of To Teach will engage while it instructs. It is a much-needed reminder of how curiosity, a sense of adventure, and a healthy dose of reflection can guide us all to learn the most from this world as we educate the next generation. Teacher educators and professional developers will want to use this dynamic graphic novel alongside the traditional text for a unique teaching and learning experience.

William Ayers is a school reform activist, Distinguished Professor, and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ryan Alexander-Tanner is an art teacher and a Xeric Award-winning comic artist.

“This fascinating and, yes, educational book will certainly be of interest to teachers, but it will also teach, inspire, and entertain anyone else who picks it up.”
—Publishers Weekly

"It’s profoundly charming . . . a must for educators and highly encouraged for all."
—The Huffington Post

“An utterly original and deliciously irreverent book that is likely to be passed from hand to hand by tens of thousands of our nation’s teachers out of the sheer joy that they will take in reading it.”
—From the Foreword by Jonathan Kozol

“To Teach is hilarious serious and fabulous! A broad manifesto that will change many people’s lives.”
—Laurie Anderson, artist and musician

“Bill Ayers’s theories about teaching reform rest on at least two foundations. One is that the hierarchical relationship between the student and teacher should be moved out of the way, followed by simultaneous learning by teacher and student. The second is to demonstrate how some subjects blend with others (math with science) and all should be taught with their relationship in mind. Sounds good to me. A serious book, but laced with humor. It will strike most readers as a novel approach. Required reading for all educators.”
—Harvey Pekar, author, American Splendor series

“This book is a treasure chest of insight. It represents what dedicated, imaginative teaching is all about and is a blueprint for everyone who wants to explore the intimate connection between teaching and learning. Bill Ayers’ thoughtful text is illuminated by Ryan Alexander-Tanner’s picture-perfect cartoons, creating an added dimension of wit and wisdom that brings comics another step forward in their evolution.”
—Peter Kuper, cartoonist and educator, books include Sticks and Stones, and Diario De Oaxaca

“To Teach is great reading not only to student teachers but to anyone who has a vested interest in our education system. . . . It also is a great example of how comic art is a very efficient way to communicate complex ideas.”
—Peter Bagge, comics journalist and author of the Buddy Bradley series

“Weaving in inspirational anecdotes and playful visual metaphors, To Teach takes us through one school year with a delightful group of young learners. In the process, Ayers and Alexander-Tanner’s collaboration cleverly illustrates the vital importance—and moral necessity—of teaching.”
—Josh Neufeld, writer/artist of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

“ I wish I’d read this book before I started teaching and making comics a decade ago; it’s chock full of practical and philosophical advice.”
—Lauren Weinstein, cartoonist and teacher, writer/artist, Girl Stories

“For those of you pondering the question of whether to teach or not, this book will help you figure out whether teaching is for you. For those of you already in the classroom, it can inspire you to remember why you chose to teach in the first place.”

—From the Foreword bySonia Nieto, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and author ofWhy We TeachandWhat Keeps Teachers Going?

“To Teachprovides a wealth of tips, lessons, approaches, and ways to think about thinking. But it also provides a sense of the calling to teach. That is why we need today books like this one, to remind us of why teaching matters.”

—From the Afterword byMike Rose, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies


To Teachis the now-classic story of one teacher’s odyssey into the ethical and intellectual heart of teaching. For almost two decades, it has inspired teachers across the country to follow their own path, face their own challenges, and become the teachers they long to be. Since the second edition, there have been dramatic shifts to the educational landscape: the rise and fall of NCLB, major federal intervention in education, the Seattle and Louisville Supreme Court decisions, the unprecedented involvement of philanthropic organizations and big city mayors in school reform, the financial crisis, and much more. This newThird Editionis essential reading amidst today’s public policy debates and school reform initiatives that stress the importance of “good teaching.”


To help bring this popular story to a new generation of teachers, Teachers College Press is publishing an exciting companion volume:To Teach: The Journey, in Comics. In this graphic novel, Ayers and talented young artist Ryan Alexander-Tanner bring the celebrated memoir to life. TheThird EditionofTo Teach, paired with the new graphic novel, offers a unique teaching and learning experience that broadens and deepens our understanding of what teaching can be. Together, these resources will capture the imaginations of pre- and in-service teachers who are ready to follow their own Yellow Brick Roads.


TheThird EditionofTo Teachoffers today’s teachers:



Inspiration to help them reconnect with their highest aspirations and hopes.
A practical guide to teaching as a moral practice.
An antidote to teaching as a linear, connect-the-dots enterprise.
A study guide that is available on-line at tcpress.com.

William Ayersis a school reform activist and Distinguished Professor and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Praise for the Second Edition!

"An imaginative, elegant, and inspiring book... essential reading for anyone who believes that teachers can change lives."—Michèle Foster, Claremont Graduate University


“To Teachis one of the few books about teaching that does not disappoint.”

—From the Foreword byGloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin–Madison


“William Ayers creates a wise and beautiful account of what teaching is and might be.... He leaves us with fresh awareness of what the teaching project signifies. He provokes us, each in our own fashion, to move further in our own quests.”

—Maxine Greene, Teachers College, Columbia University


“No one since John Holt has written so thoughtfully about the things that actually happen in the classroom. Ayers has been there and he knows, and he shares what he has learned with tremendous sensitivity. The book, I’m sure, will be required reading in every school in the nation.”

—Jonathan Kozol


“Bill Ayers speaks as teacher, parent, and student: as compassionate observer and passionate advocate of his three sons and of all of our children. What is unique is the way in which the personal and professional merge seamlessly.... Ayers is a wonderful story teller.”

—Herbert Kohl


“Ayers’s riveting description of his unfolding journey as a teacher will be a helpful guide to teachers at all stages of their careers.”

Rick and William Ayers renew their challenge to teachers to teach initiative, to teach imagination, to “teach the taboo” in the new edition of this bestseller. Drawing from a lifetime of deep commitment to students, teaching, and social justice, the authors update their powerful critique of schooling and present classroom stories of everyday teachers grappling with many of today’s hotly debated issues. They invite educators to live a teaching life of questioning—to imagine classrooms where every established and received bit of wisdom, common sense, orthodoxy, and dogma is open for examination, interrogation, and rethinking. Teaching the Taboo, Second Edition is an insightful guide to effective pedagogy and essential reading for anyone looking to evolve as an educator.

What’s new for the second edition of Teaching the Taboo!

A deeper exploration of issues of white privilege and racism and war and peace. A more thorough examination of the problems with math and science education, including possible solutions. An expanded exploration of the importance of creative writing for validating individual and community experiences. A more thorough discussion of Freire’s work and comparison to the radical teaching projects of African American activists in the south during the Freedom Schools.  An in-depth look at how students can be part of co-constructing historical narratives and analyses. An update on school struggles in Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle.

Praise for the first edition of Teaching the Taboo!
“For those frustrated by the thrust of educational 'reform'…this book provides what can be described as both a challenge and a set of alternatives.”
—Education Review

“Drawing from a lifetime of deep thinking about education and courageous commitment to precious students, Rick and William Ayers have given us a marvelous book. Their devastating critique of the pervasive market models in education and their powerful defense of democratic forms of imagination in schools are so badly needed in our present-day crisis!”
—Cornel West, Princeton University

“Teaching the Taboo is provocative, challenging, funny in places, wild but sensible enough to be useful, inspiring, and practical for educators who are working to negate the educational madness that is infecting the schools.”
—Herb Kohl, author of 36 Children and Painting Chinese

Rick Ayers is a university instructor and founder of the Communication Arts and Sciences small school at Berkeley High School, and teaches at the University of San Francisco. William Ayers is a school reform activist and a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

How do we see our schools and the project of education? Is this the best we can do? What would we like our schools to become? How might we get there? In this provocative book, Bill Ayers invites us to dream of schools in which each child “is of infinite and incalculable value.” Blending personal anecdotes with critique of the state of education, this beautifully written little book is filled with big ideas that explore the challenges and opportunities for an education system that desperately needs repair. Teaching with Conscience in an Imperfect World is an urgent call to action and a plan to help educators, policymakers, and parents to stretch toward something new and dramatically better—schools that are more joyful and more just, more balanced and more guided by the power of love.

Book Features:

Designed to promote meaningful discussions in teacher education courses. Addresses the problems with our current education system and how they came to be. Advocates, with illustrations, for schooling that promotes critical thinking and engaged learning. Critiques school reform efforts, such as high-stakes testing, curriculum standardization, and dated performance metrics. Urges teachers to see students as full and equal human beings with agency and capacity.

“Bill Ayers invites you to imagine teaching in ways that make a difference; ways that brings smiles and successful learning to students and joyous fulfillment to teachers.”
—Carl Grant, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“Bill Ayers reveals the questions educators of conscience ask themselves in their quiet time.”
—David Stovall, University of Illinois at Chicago

“This book is for every classroom teacher who is challenged by what they fear is a dark time for public schools in America.”
—Fred Klonsky, education blogger

A. S. Neill’s radical approach to child rearing is as controversial today as it was in 1960. Neill’s “code of freedom” emphasized the principles of freedom, love, and positive discipline in the care and education of children. These ideals continue to evoke admiration by many who have found them key to not only raising healthy, happy children but also to stemming the tide of violence in our schools and society. Others dismiss these same principles for being idealistic at best and harmful at worst.

In this wonderful account, Bill Ayers speaks as a parent and an educator who has spent years in the classroom experimenting with Neill’s progressive approach. While Ayers admits to being a long-time fan of Neill’s, he also admits that Neill’s techniques sometimes “seemed more than a little loony.” when they first appeared. It is Ayers’s honest, straightforward approach that makes his treatment of Neill so valuable and relevant to how we treat and raise our children today.

This vital and unique volume is a great read for parents, teachers, and anyone considering alternative visions for raising children and overcoming violence in today’s society. It also features key sections from the original text of Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing that Ayers identifies as critical to understanding Neill’s philosophy.

“William Ayers’ dialog with A. S. Neill . . . is particularly important at this time when high-stakes testing and an obsession with stigmatizing children as ADD or Hyperactive is a substitute for treating students as respected citizens of their schools. Neill and Ayers understand the importance of choice, voice, and respect in the lives of adolescents and they honor and celebrate it.”
—From the Series Foreword by Herb Kohl

“Bill Ayers, a creative and insightful educator, begins where A.S. Neill left off by challenging us to think outside the box and push for true freedom and democracy in our schools.  This book is a must read, not only for educators but also for professionals and parents who care about children and for whom building a truly humane and just society is paramount.”
—Jane R. Hirschmann, Chair, NYS Parents' Coalition to End High Stakes Testing</p

A Light in Dark Times features a list of extraordinary contributors who have been deeply influenced by Professor Greene’s progressive philosophies. While Maxine Greene is the focus for this collection, each chapter is an encounter with her ideas by an educator concerned with his or her own works and projects. In essence, each featured author takes off from Maxine Greene and then moves forward.

This unique and fascinating collection of essays will—as Maxine Greene has—influence a wide range of worlds: arts and aesthetics, literature and literacy studies, cultural studies, school change and improvement, the teaching of literacy, teacher education, philosophy of education, peace and social justice, women’s studies, and civil rights.

Contributors: William Ayers • Jean Anyon, Louise Berman • Leon Botstein • Deborah P. Britzman • Linda Darling-Hammond • Karen Ernst • Michelle Fine • Norm Fruchter • Madeleine R. Grumet • Sandra Hollingsworth • Mary-Ellen Jacobs • Herbert Kohl • Wendy Kohli • Craig Kridel • Peter McLaren • Maureen Miletta • Janet L. Miller • Sonia Nieto • Nel Noddings • Jo Anne Pagano • Frank Pignatelli • William F. Pinar • Kathleen Reilly • Jonathan G. Silin • Sheila Slater • Candy Systra • Carlos Alberto Torres • Mark Weiss

“Maxine Greene is the preeminent American philosopher of education today. Her work has had an enormous impact on generations of teachers, researchers, academics, and school reform activists. . . . This book focuses on the issues and questions raised by Maxine Greene over several decades: social imagination, the place of activism, the importance of the arts, progressive school change, the role of culture, and the meaning of freedom in the modern world. It is focused on the future, toward exploring these themes into the twenty-first century.”
—From the Preface

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