Product reviews for How To Teach

Anurag Jain, Secondary School Teacher, London
There are a number of books that purport to get teachers through the first year or, indeed, get your students to 'shut up' enough so that you may perform your function as a teacher. I read a number of them in my first year teaching and not only did they all start to get a bit same-y, they were sadly unhelpful. Sadly, it seems, the first year is something of a trial by fire, whatever way you cut it. I read Beadle's book towards the end of my first year and it was startling for me. Beadle writes in a conversational, humorous way (avoiding boring puns, for the most part and sachrine sentimentality) and offers great insights into the emotional and intellectual trauma of surviving. He addresses the reader as someone who teaches, not someone who spends his time consulting.

He urges the teacher to keep showing up. He recognises and in a way demands that there will be much failure and that it is the teacher's responsibility to emotionally deal with that. He asks that the teacher feel ok about themselves and thus make them better equipped to see and read the kids for what they are--confused, insecure hormonal people. His advice is prescriptive to the point that it can sometimes read like a script (stand here, make your voice sound like this), stern (as when he admonishes those who do not mark their books), to comical (I liked the teacher as meerkat bit). This is a book written by a teacher, but a teacher who is still a human being--one who remembers what it means to feel broken and sad and full of loathing for self and student. Beadles' prose is hopeful and comforting and filled with crazy tasks that sound outlandish, but are worth a try. I tried, for example, the argument tennis bit out; it was a shambles, but a mental shambles that left students and myself laughing and enjoying ourselves instead of loathing one another. It was a breakthrough.

I particularly appreciate Beadles' own dissenting views when it comes to educational orthodoxy while still rehearsing the importance of standard things such as the 'starter'. This shows a mind with a great imagination and a generous spirit. Finally, the last pages are a true reaching out to any teacher to keep trying and to keep going. A plea to go the pub, go to the cinema, go out to the park and rediscover the energy that you need to participate in the greatest profession in the world. No, this book will not teach you to teach, but it will help you think larger and funnier and remind yourself constantly that it is going to get better.
Guest | 18/05/2012 01:00
Was this review helpful? Yes No (0/0)