Written by Dipak Basu about his beloved daughter Jhumki, Mission to Teach is a powerful biography about an amazing woman and an inspiring educator. The life of Jhumki Basu was unfortunately cut short after she lost her battle with cancer at the tender age of only 31 yet her accomplishments and the people she touched along the way will forever be blessed simply for having known her. I challenge any reader to read Mission to Teach and not weep for the loss of Jhumki, a true hero in so many lives. Thank you to Dipak for sharing his daughter’s story and providing those of us who were not fortunate enough to know her a brief glimpse into her astonishing life.
A Professor at New York University, Jhumki Basu was an inspiration to everyone who knew her but especially to her students; the students that so many would have turned from and tried to ignore. Jhumki opened her heart to the students that were homeless, came from low-income backgrounds, minority groups and other social or economic struggles. Her heart was matched in size only by her own ambition and tenacity. She was a beautiful woman both on the surface and in spirit. The world suffered a great loss the day it lost Jhumki Basu. She held a firm conviction in the idea of a lifelong learning and that in order to teach you must be willing to be taught. Following that conviction she became a learner in her own classroom always trying to learn about her students – who they were, where they came from, their background, their culture and what teaching methods were the most effective at reaching them. She worked to understand their strengths and weaknesses so that she could provide them with the best education and opportunities she could. Her methods were focused and impressive. She was an amazing woman.
Dipak’s writing style is unique in Mission to Teach. It does occasionally feel a little disjointed and the flow is interrupted but with a heart-breaking story such as this it’s very easy to overlook. At times it feels as though he is writing to Jhumki as he recounts memories and shares his feelings about his daughter, the life she lived and the pain of her loss. At other times he shares journal entries and e-mails. He also includes interviews with Jhumki’s friends, students and colleagues. I wept openly while reading the interviews; it is amazing to read about how much she meant to the people in her life. It is clear that she will never be forgotten; living on forever in the hearts and memories of those she touched while she was a part of their lives.
Mission to Teach is a moving biography about a revolutionary educator, beloved daughter and friend. She challenged American science education, led reform against deeply-established practices and accomplishing stunning achievements all by the age of 31 and while battling cancer for her last 7 years. She was remarkable. Mission to teach is a wonderful book about a truly incredible woman. Yes, you will weep for the loss of Jhumki but this should be a must-read book.
Review by Ashley LaMarClosed the Cover