In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher’s five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done.
Substitute teachers hold a unique position in the education community—both insiders and outsiders. Baker, one of our country’s preeminent literary writers, observes students at their most hilarious and their most heartbreaking, and he gives readers a front-row seat to hot-button issues such as standardized curriculum, technology in the classroom, and medicating kids.
Nicholson Baker is the author of ten novels and five works of nonfiction, including The Anthologist, The Mezzanine, and Human Smoke. His new book is: Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids.