Intrator, Sam M.
INTRATOR, Sam M.
CAREER: Writer and educator. Smith College, Northampton, MA, assistant professor of education and child study, 1999–, codirector of the Urban Education Initiative. Worked as public high schools as teacher and in administrative services in CA, VT, and Brooklyn, NY. Member of board, Center for Teacher Formation, Consortium for Educational Excellence through Partnerships, and Northampton High School Council.
AWARDS, HONORS: W.K. Kellogg National Leadership fellowship; Distinguished Teacher Award, White House Commission on Presidential Scholars; Faculty Teaching Award, Smith College.
(Editor) Stories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teacher's Heart, foreword by Parker J. Palmer, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
(Editor, with Megan Scribner) Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach, introduction by Parker J. Palmer and Tom Vander Ark, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
(Editor) Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: A former public high school teacher, Sam M. Intrator has become a specialist in education and now teaches the subject at Smith College. He has written or edited several books that serve as inspirational guides for teachers looking for ways to revive the wonder of learning in the classroom for both themselves and their students. His books Stories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teacher's Heart and Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach are edited collections that gather together essays or poems that attempt to put the heart back into the educational process. Peter Temes, in a New York Times review of the former book, explained that the twenty-five teachers who contributed their essays "are outstanding not because of their intellect but because of their emotional commitment to students." "This collection is a welcome relief from the spate of recent books that focus only on standards, testing, and accountability," asserted Sonia Nieto and Kara Willett in a Language Arts article.
Teaching with Fire similarly intends to inspire educators but does so with poetry instead of prose. Edited by Intrator and Megan Scribner, the book collects poems by such writers as John Milton, Barbara Kingsolver, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Galway Kinnell, all of which were mailed to the editors by teachers who found them particularly inspirational. As an introduction to each poem, the teacher-contributor explains how the verse served as encouragement to continue teaching and striving to improve. Harvard Educational Review contributor Jane Lohmann noted common themes in the selections, "such as the No Child Left Behind legislation, education for political change, teacher education and development, September 11, 2001, and the attrition rate of teachers due to the challenges associated with the work." Lohman also noted that proceeds from sales have been earmarked for teacher scholarships.
In his first authored title, Tuned In and Fired Up: How Teaching Can Inspire Real Learning in the Classroom, Intrator discusses at length his belief that current prevailing emphasis on standardizing curricula and testing is harmful to the education process because it does not take into account the uniqueness of each student, or the abilities of the educator to do more than by-rote teaching. As Intrator stated in an article for Instructor, "It is timely … that American readers be reminded that teaching requires far more than the application of routine techniques to pre-specified ends; teaching, at its best, is a human activity that is more than technology." Tuned In and Fired Up provides several examples in which teachers managed to connect their students to their subject matter in powerful and effective ways. In Adolescence, a reviewer concluded that Intrator "confirms that seemingly magical learning moments can be cultivated," as well as providing "numerous practical ideas to help teachers do so."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Adolescence, fall, 2003, review of Tuned In and Fired Up: How Teaching Can Inspire Real Learning in the Classroom, p. 588.
Childhood Education, winter, 2004, Gloria Henderson, review of Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach, p. 111.
Education Digest, November, 2003, Dudley Barlow, review of Tuned In and Fired Up, p. 75.
Education Week, October 15, 2003, review of Tuned In and Fired Up, p. 39.
Harvard Educational Review, winter, 2004, Jane Lohmann, review of Teaching with Fire, p. 468.
Instructor, April, 2004, Sam M. Intrator, "Poems to Teach By," p. 20.
Language Arts, July, 2003, Sonia Nieto and Kara Willett, review of Stories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teacher's Heart, p. 471.
Library Journal, April 1, 2002, Scott Walter, review of Stories of the Courage to Teach, p. 122.
New York Times, April 14, 2002, Peter Temes, "On Teaching, in the Teacher's Voice," review of Stories of the Courage to Teach, p. L10.
Smith College Web site, http://www.smith.edu/ (May 13, 2005), "Sam M. Intrator."