Biography and Author’s Statement


She received a BA from Oberlin College and a Master of Science in Teaching from the University of Chicago. She was a counselor at the University of Chicago Orthogenic School, a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children directed by Bruno Bettelheim.

While working with Bettelheim, she counseled emotionally disturbed adolescent girls. It was an experience that taught her, she says, that it can be less frightening to face one's fears than to run from them. While at the Laboratory Schools, Katch student-taught with Vivian Paley and then taught kindergarten and nursery school for thirteen years, taking a two year leave of absence to have her first child and to be a part-time director of a small nursery school next door to her home.

Katch is the author of Under Deadman's Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children's Violent Play (Beacon, 2000) and They Don't Like Me: Lessons on Bullying and Teasing from a Preschool Classroom (Beacon, 2003). She has presented lectures and workshops at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Tufts University, Wheelock College, and Lesley College.

Author's Statement

After twenty-five years in the classroom, I find that difficult issues still haunt me. When I realize that some interactions in my class make me uncomfortable or make me wince, I have learned to look more carefully rather than to turn away. I study the problem, watching and thinking about it until I am not afraid of it and can discover ways to face it in an effective way.

I wrote my first book, Under Deadman's Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Violence in Children's Play, because I was disturbed and puzzled by the violent content of the fantasies of my class of five-year-olds and I realized I could not make the fantasies go away just by telling the children to stop playing their disturbing games. As I watched and listened to the children's play, I learned to deal more effectively with their concerns and conflicts. I also became increasingly aware of the effects of the media of the children and on their school environment, and learned to help the parents to set more effective limits.

In my second book, They Don't Like Me: Lessons on Bullying and Teasing from a Preschool Classroom, I studied issues of bullying, teasing, and exclusion as they arose in my class during one school year. I watched the children as they became aware of the social groups around them, as they made their initial attempts to join, and as they tried to keep other children out. As I came to understand the children's need to bully and exclude, I became more effective in preventing the behavior much of the time, in helping children who were teased to learn to deal with it more effectively, and empowering the bystanders to intervene and support the victims.


For the last thirty years, Jane Katch has taught young children, first at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and currently at the Touchstone Community School in Grafton, Massachusetts.