If you’re looking for a good memoir to read, Miseducated by Brandon P. Fleming is it. This is one of the most uplifting and inspiring books I’ve ever read.
Fleming is a young black man who survived physical abuse, pressure to sell drugs, a failed suicide attempt, and a failed college basketball career to eventually become the founder and director of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Program. This program gives black youth in Atlanta the opportunity to study and compete at Harvard’s summer debate residency.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a classic “underdog” story and, specifically, teachers. Fleming grew up in an area where great teachers were rare. He admits to skipping a lot of his classes in his middle and high school days. Fleming eventually was able to get a scholarship to university on account of his basketball skills but he lacked the ability to do well in his classes due to his poor education. After a career-ending injury, Fleming drops out of college and starts working in a vitamin factory.
Utterly depressed, Fleming attempts suicide. After he wakes up in the hospital, his mother offers Fleming her GI Bill, allowing him another chance at completing a college degree.
Fleming immersed himself in school, choosing to major in English with the goal of becoming a teacher. He starts a program for young “scholars” on the weekend and finds that he has a knack for getting kids to engage with philosophy of all things.
His program takes off, and the kids love learning philosophy from Fleming. (I don’t know about you, but I think it would be incredibly difficult to get kids interested in philosophy. I personally didn’t engage much when I took my philosophy requirement in college. It just didn't interest me.) You not only get to see Fleming grow as a person throughout the novel, but you get a great in-depth look at his teaching style. No matter where Fleming taught, the kids loved him. That’s why I think this would be a great book for teachers to read if they’re looking to improve their own skills in the classroom.
I won’t go too much more in-depth about the book because I don’t want to give any spoilers but Fleming eventually becomes the founder and director of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Program, a pretty impressive feat for someone who had to overcome so much in his life. The craziest thing about this book is it has a 5/5 rating on goodreads with 24 ratings. Honestly, that’s pretty unheard of. If I’m looking through Goodreads and I see a book that has a 3.5-star rating or above, I know it’s going to be great. The fact that this has a 5-star ratings is astounding. I definitely recommend you check out this book when it drops June 15.
*I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.