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-1Rafael Torres

EDUC 590
7/29/09

No Shortcuts Summary

There are no shortcuts is a book written by Rafe

Esquith who is a veteran teacher in a low S.E.S. school.

Regardless of the status of the school and it’s students

Rafe has managed to receive national honors and get his

classes to raise standardized test scores. Rafe Esquith is

a product of Los Angeles graduating at UCLA. Both of his

parents were involved in helping others. Rafes mother was a

nurse and his father was a social worker. According to Rafe

even on his deathbed, Rafe’s father asked nurses if he

could help. Not surprisingly Rafe decided to become a

teacher and it was his parents who laid the foundation for

one of the most effective teachers in the nation. Rafe

brought many qualities to the classroom including his many

passions. He had a passion for music, sports, Shakespeare,

and math. Basically everything Rafe was required to teach

in 5th grade was something he was passionate about. Upon

graduating from college Rafe was luckily offered a teaching

position at a prestigious private school with amazing kids.

At this new school Rafe implemented Shakespeare and music

and even field trips that provided extensive learning


opportunities for the students. According to Rafe every

great idea he had students and parents were happy with but

he felt students already had experience with everything he

was bringing in. Students at Camelot as Rafe referred to

it, knew Shakespeare, took music lessons, and swam in

Olympic sized pools. In other words theses kids came from

affluent families and were afforded many opportunities to

partake in extra-curricular activities. Rafe felt that

these kids did not need him. With or without him they would

succeed and Rafe’s undying desire to help others made him

consider his place at this school. According to Rafe at a

competition he saw his kids win and noticed the losing team

hanging their heads. Their principle approached Rafe and

asked him if he wanted to go somewhere where he was free to

do his job. Rafe agreed and took the job at the jungle as

he would like to call it. According to the book Rafe got

close to 40 kids his first couple of years and all he

wanted to do was be their friends. Wanting to be friends of

students is not the best strategy and Rafe suffered along

with the students. As the years went by Rafe began to gain

the trust of students and expanded the day to get students

the same opportunities afforded by the kids at Camelot. The

day at Hobart began at 6:30 and ended around 5. Not all

students arrived early and left late but gradually the


numbers increased. Students began to have success and

Rafe’s students reading scores shot up to the 90th

percentile. Students even began reading Shakespeare and

doing legitimate algebra. Even with all the success Rafe

has had many struggles but they weren’t necessarily from

students but rather co-workers and administrators.

According to Rafe a lot of solid teachers are capable of

doing great jobs but sadly they leave the profession

because of the cancers existing in many schools.

Personally I really enjoyed his story. Specifically I

enjoyed the way in which Rafe took his job seriously and

challenged his kids. Yes his days are longer and filled

with work but there always seemed to be a reward in class.

Regardless of the subject there was always a culminating

activity such as a field trip, sporting even, or a play .

All of these culminating activities put what students did

in class into context. I feel this context based

instruction was pivotal in information retention in his

students. I also was really impressed with the economic

system he implemented in his class. Students learned rental

cost, check writing, balancing a checkbook ,and realty. I

never had a class that taught all these essential life

skills. Rafe did it all in one class. Because I teach P.E.

I would definitely want to add more opportunities for


students to see what we do in class in context.