Product reviews for How To Teach

Ink Pellet Ink Pellet, Issue 77, 2010
You have to take your hat off to anyone who has spent half a lifetime firing the enthusiasm of inner city children - and survived to tell the tale.

However, this kind of book brings out the teacher in you - and you find yourself scribbling crosses and exclamation marks as well as ticks.

Top marks for common sense go to Phil Beadle`s observation: `A teacher without a seating plan is a dunce and is asking for it.` But his follow-up observation -`Having your desks set out in groups is the right way to organise your classroom` - is likely to make you scrawl an upper case `NO!`

It brings back memories of misguided heads of department trying to impose this road to ruin on their colleagues as well as all those mind-numbing INSET days when you were told to get into groups and try to think of something to say. Some of the advice is spot on: `Look to find the person behind the behaviour - the person that you like, who made you laugh yesterday and who, you suspect, is having a tough time at the moment and speak to them.`

An A star should also be awarded for the line, `The teacher you are going to be is a version of yourself if you were, to quote Lou Reed, `Someone else, someone good`.`

And the sanctioning of laughter in the classroom for children who do not get too much at home, together with the attack on the `ubiquity and tyranny` of the interactive whiteboard, merits universal praise.

A question mark, nevertheless, hangs over the author`s compulsion to address fellow professionals in kidspeak. We all know that adolescents revel in the reproductive and delight in the defecatory, favouring expressions like `I wouldn`t give a toss`, `dumb-arsed` and `I had lucked into a completely shit job` - and we are also familiar with their sloppy English, such as `off of`, `it`s` for `its` and `affects` for `effects`, but why affect this if your subject is supposed to be English?

One of the exclamation marks was next to this classic recipe for ending a lesson, which is described as the `wandering plenary`: `Get the kids to walk aimlessly around the room. Every time they bump into a person they tell each other what they learnt.`

We have all had moments like this, but they are not generally occasions which have been planned.
Guest | 25/02/2011 00:00
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