Product reviews for How To Teach

Ian Whitwham, SecEd columnist, journalist and former teacher
This book is that rare thing in education. Readable. Hugely readable. And necessary. Hugely necessary. It`s also hip, sharp, sussed, funny and extremely practical - a scintillating, pedagogical romp, written by someone who knows. You want to be a `phenomenal` teacher? Not just `mediocre`? Well, this is indeed your bible.

It`s a happy mix of the idealistic and the tough. There are no short cuts to success. It`s very hard graft. But get the basics right and the rest will follow. Get them wrong and you`re toast. Teaching, for Beadle, is `a performance art`. Dullness is not an option and his judgements are severe. Bore the kids and `it becomes their moral responsibility to misbehave`.

Oo -er! How to prevent this? With fierce subject knowledge, much passion and Beadle`s Top Teaching Tips. These are many, detailed, inventive and practical.

`Sweat the small stuff and the big stuff don`t happen`.
Small stuff like `Turn up. Take the punches. Smile back.` There`s hardcore wisdom about seating plans and hands up and shutting up (you not them) and the horrors of detentions (yours not theirs) and the need to get tough on gum and crisps and pens and not to be scared to cultivate your inner sadist. The section on the gradational levels of confrontation is a belter. You need to develop an extensive repertoire - from the Pinter pause, the mono brow, the micro nod, the eye narrow raise, to the `extremely useful` borderline psychosis. Ho hum. He is Stalinist with marking and after reading about Cerise you will be too.
He dismantles the Victorian classroom.
`Desks are the enemies of learning`

He dismantles the teacher lead discussion. Children turn off after about seven minutes. It took me years to get this. They learn in groups - and in permutations of groups. They learn by DOING things. He`s right! This section is again full of detailed, brilliantly classroom tactics. Apply these and `the classroom`s your playground.`You`re now ready to be yourself. Passionate, larky, creative, risky - and to see off Ofsted and their often dreary criteria.

These exhausting rigours are all in the service of the greater good - to teach children. `Remember, it is for them you want to be a good teacher.` Beadle emphasises their fragility, their continuously threatened self-esteem, their daily humiliations. So many have had so much of this. They don`t want more in the classroom. Especially working class children - especially white working class boys. Beadle `gets` these often naughty boys and knows that education is their only weapon, their only break. The book respects children throughout without any tacky sentiment. `All children`, we are reminded, `lie`. And `all children are special needs.`

Teaching, for Beadle is not a vocation for the idle, the craven, pansy liberals or, I`m afraid, north London social workers - or even Accrington Stanley fans. The rest of you should get it. This is the Knowledge. It`s necessary. It`s often hilarious. It works. For the new teacher it is indeed the Bible. And for old lags- I taught for 35 years and if I`d read this book I would have been so much better.
Guest | 25/02/2011 00:00
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