Professor Robert Coe, PhD , Professor of Education and Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), Durham University
How could you not love this man? John Tomsett's book is a personal account of his own learning, modestly declaring -˜This Much I Know About Love Over Fear`, drawing on his own experience, his family, his childhood, his teaching, his leadership, his poetry - and his golf. Through it all his values shine with the heat of a blast-furnace: -˜respect, honesty and kindness'. Fear plays a minor role in this story; love overwhelms it.

Tomsett shows that love can be tough love. He may be nurturing and supportive as a head, but he is also demanding. However good a teacher you are, you need to be even better. He gives specific examples to illustrate how students can be taught to plan and write better essays, how seeing the head teacher engage a tough group of disengaged boys changed the culture in his school, how metaphors can be used to explain key concepts like -˜film genre theory', how performance management can be performance development.

Some of the research Tomsett cites is a bit cherry-picked for my taste, and some of it treated a bit uncritically: not all research really proves what it claims, you can usually find some research to back up any belief, and some research findings can be interpreted to support conclusions that are not really what was found. But I am a pedantic research nerd and his overall message is sound. More important, it is presented in a way that will connect with teachers and bring to life the research and its applications to their practice. 

When you work in education it is easy to get depressed and frustrated about things. Teaching is such a hard job; even doing it badly is demanding, but trying to do it well is an unending Herculean trial. Seeing - and sharing - the challenges that some young people face, and daily having to live with your impotence to remove them, can be profoundly draining. Interference from government, from inspectors, and from others with power and the desire to improve things, even if it is well-meant, rarely feels helpful. This book is an antidote to all that negativity. It is uplifting, affirming, passionate and deeply moving. It is about love, but not much about fear.
Guest | 12/05/2015 01:00
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