Didau's premise is seemingly a simple one: “our best bet for making kids cleverer is to increase the quantity and quality of what they know.” (p.250) This, in my experience, is not necessarily an idea that has not impacted upon schools. Didau takes this premise and leads the reader through a carefully sequenced argument of why this is important and how it might be done. He argues that there is a connection between intelligence (IQ) and people having a happier, longer, healthier life and, since that should be the aim for all pupils, schools should work to make pupils more intelligent. Having set out his stall, so to speak, Didau sets out his manifesto for how this could be achieved.
The text itself is easy to read: I enjoyed his style and the way in which he intertwined research and analogies in a way that was easy to follow and understand. His arguments are logical; they make sense. Whether you agree with them or not is not really the point, I don't think, because Didau makes a compelling argument for knowledge based curriculum, careful consideration of the knowledge to be taught and the use of explicit instruction (laced with cognitive load theory input) as the way in which to ensure pupils learn that knowledge.
Didau argues that some aspects of intelligence (which he accepts there is a wide-reaching definition of) cannot be changed - what we get is what we get. However, his manifesto sets out ways in which we can learn knowledge he suggests is 'biologically secondary' and argues that, if this knowledge is taught in schools, all pupils will have access to this no matter their disadvantage. This development of knowledge has an impact on intelligence that is able to grow and, therefore, children will be cleverer.
The chapters are laid out in a way which makes it easy to read. Each begins with questions to ponder, which are answered within the chapter. Each chapter ends with a bullet point list summarising the key points of each chapter, followed by a short paragraph which links the arguments of the chapter to the next. As I said, the book is organised in a logical and structured way, and the format of the chapters supports this. The summaries at the end are particularly useful, I found, as a way of matching my key takeaways of the chapter with the intention.
Whatever your opinions on explicit instruction, working memory and the way in which pupils should be taught, Didau makes compelling and thought-provoking arguments.
For a further review, please see here: https://elsie2110.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/musings-making-kids-cleverer-by-david-didau/