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Book Review: THE NATTY PROFESSOR by Tim Gunn

As spring draws nearer each day, and the weather starts to warm up, I find myself wanting to read feel-good, educational books.

I finished Michelle Obama's BECOMING just a week or so ago. It made me want to continue the nonfiction/memoir trend.

As much as I love Tim Gunn and his T.E.A.C.H. method, I did have a few problems with this book.

I'll start with the good though.

T.E.A.C.H. stands for Truth-telling, Empathy, Asking, Cheerleading, and Hoping for the best.

The books is broken down into sections with these titles as well, but the connection was so loose, I sometimes had to flip back to see what section I was actually in.

Each concept is explained in roughly one page, and then the rest of the chapter is (supposed) supporting content in the form of anecdotes and experiences. There are no neat ribbons tying everything up. A lot of the conclusions are left for the reader to drawn on their own which is not very fitting for a book that calls itself a "master class" on anything.

Gunn has a lot of great tips and tricks for dealing with uncomfortable situations while teaching. He addresses potential issues with students and problems that can arise amongst faculty.

Mostly, Gunn throws a lot of his personal connections under the bus for mistakes they made and attempts to use these stories to teach a lesson. I much preferred reading the sections about his "make it work" methodology rather than hearing about hissy fits thrown by prominent people in the fashion industry.

For example, some really great quotes:

"Kanye West’s plain white T-shirt for A.P.C. retailed for $120. The only thing dumber than that is the person who would buy it. I say get one from Hanes and give the balance of the money to a charity. Or to a promising designer in the form of a Mood gift certificate." - page 36

"That’s one of the most amazing things about teaching: when you see each student bring their own soul to an assignment, you see twenty different right answers." - page 168

"As a teacher, you have an obligation to provide the facts, even if you don't like them. You can present it in a leading way, the way lawyers do in a courtroom. You can sway your audience, but don't misinform them!" - page 228

"It reminded me what education is all about: a place where abilities are celebrated and issues are addressed, where people young and old work together to learn and grow."

Ultimately, the moments where I felt Gunn was sharing a piece of important information were more plentiful than the eye-roll-inducing, name-dropping complaints.

I give THE NATTY PROFESSOR a solid 4 stars.

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