“For twenty-five years I’ve led a double life. I’m a full-time classroom teacher in a public school. In order to make ends meet for my family, I’ve worked during the summers, vacations, and sometimes weekends, as a carpenter. In the classroom or on the building site my passion is the same: If you’re going to do something, I believe, you should do it well. You should sweat over it and make sure it’s strong and accurate and beautiful and you should be proud of it.”
So, beguilingly, Ron Berger begins An Ethic of Excellence. I imagine him sweating over a series of drafts to refine this passage into a fitting introduction to the aspects of the book which make it such a pleasure to read: expressing his pride in his craftsmanship and his students’ work; drawing explicit analogies between carpentry and scholarship; demonstrating his care for elegant writing.