Product reviews for Don't Change the Light Bulbs

Terry Freedman, Educational ICT Consultant,
This book collects together the thoughts and observations of over 71 people in education. These are each a little longer than the bite-sized comments typical of Twitter - I understand that they were curated from Google+ discussions. Being longer than 140 characters makes them "meaty" without being too long.

In total around 70 topics are covered, not all of them curricular. For example there is a section for the senior leadership team, and another for student voice in the secondary school.

The book is very readable and enjoyable, for several reasons.

First, it's good to have the insights of such a wide range of people, and from such a wide range of areas of expertise. It's always good to hear the opinions of others, especially of people you may not have come across before.

Second, many of the comments are worth reading, and based on real classroom experience.

Third, the variety of formats in which the sections are presented adds another layer of variety.

I have a few niggles, though.

First, I'm not sure of the rationale behind the organisation of the chapters. If it was to create a sort of "lucky dip" effect, then that has been achieved very well. Some topics, such as SOLO and Assessment for Learning, might logically be considered to go together. Alternatively, listing the topics in alphabetical order might have been an option, or separating curriculum subjects from cross-curricular issue. It's not a deal-breaker, so to speak, merely disconcerting.

Second, some of the comments come across as assertions. Well, I suppose many of them do, but some grate with me more than others. (For instance, why is it assumed that the trope of "Three before me", ie use three other sources of information, including your friends, before asking the teacher, is actually a good thing to do? What if the people you ask are just as clueless as you are?)

Another thing that I thought at first was a turn-off is that if you are a subject teacher, a great deal of the book would be irrelevant to you. However, when I found myself agreeing with some people whose subject area is completely different from my own, I started to have my doubts about my initial judgement. When I found myself thinking "What a great idea. I wonder if that would work in a Computing lesson.", I realised that I had been completely wrong. I now believe that being able to "dip into" the wisdom and experience of people from so many different fields so easily is potentially very beneficial. You just need to be willing to think about how the observations could be applied in your own situation.

If you manage a team, you could use many of the points as a discussion starter in team meetings. Another use for the book would be to stimulate your thinking if you're stumped for something new to try.

It's the sort of book that you could open at random, and be almost certain to find something you can use.
Guest | 04/08/2015 01:00
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