Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Thread That Runs So True, Jesse Stuart tells the story of his life as an educator in six parts, each episode treating a stage in his career. At the age of seventeen, after only three years of high school, Stuart began his teaching career in a one-room rural school. His students ranged widely in age and ability. Among several colorful stories, his most notable is an account of a fistfight between Stuart and his massive, twenty-year-old first-grade pupil. By the end of the school year, Stuart had evolved a rudimentary philosophy of education: The natural work of children is play, from which they learn, and the teacher should foster interest and learning by organizing competitive academic games.

Five years after this early initiation into teaching, after completing college himself, Stuart became the principal and the entire faculty for fourteen bright and well-motivated young people in a landlocked rural high school, teaching all subjects. In this idyllic setting, Stuart found that work and play can indeed be combined, as his tiny band of scholars defeated the much larger county high school in academic contests. Stuart’s success led to his next challenge: the position of principal at the county school that his students had defeated. Stuart found that, in addition to his duties as principal, he had to teach a full load of classes for the same low salary that his teachers earned. At the end of a successful year as principal, he was denied...

(The entire section is 460 words.)