Sunday March 7th, 2004

          In a 30-year career that has taken him from public to private schools, torry suburbs to the broken sidewalks of Cabrini-Green, Robert Boone has constantly and consistantly proven that he is the kind of teacher whom students - and parents - dream of.

          In his charming passionate and wonderfully written book "Inside Job: A Life of Teaching," Boone takes readers on a whirlwind tour of three decades on the front lines of education, recounting the battles, the mistakes and - most telling - the moments when student's eyes spakle and smile with the confidence of "getting it."

          Composed of vigenettes that cover Boone's professional wanderings, the book continually entertains with Boone's infectious mix of optimism and innovative approaches to teaching writing. There's a hilarious section about Boone trying to direct a junior high production of "A Christmas Carol," and the surprising results of having blue-chip, inner city Chicago hoopsters write before they can participate in summer league games.

          Boone has led cross-cultural exchanges in Germany, taught GED night school classes and helped police officers learn to write better.

          He currently runs Young Chicago Authors, a program he founded to bring together Chicago youths in a creative, rigorous environment dedicated to writing styles of all stripes.

          What is so striking about Boone is his refreshing honesty and refusal to cave in to the naysayers who claim that children neither want to write nor will take the time to do it well. As a teacher of literature, I found "Inside Job" to be of more use than any dry pedagogical text. Boone tells it like it is, likes to laugh, cares about his students, pushes boundries and shows a love of teaching that simply inspires.

by Mark Luce
Special to the Tribune