BOOK REVIEW: Teacher Proof

Written by: HTU | Published:

This is a great book and a must-read for any teacher who has endured the last decade or so of very expensive courses run by well-meaning educationalists, who have either never taught a lesson in their lives, or have taken the first opportunity to escape the classroom.

This is a great book and a must-read for any teacher who has endured the last decade or so of very expensive courses run by well-meaning educationalists, who have either never taught a lesson in their lives, or have taken the first opportunity to escape the classroom. Theories and practices which are still routinely referred to as being “based on fact” are comprehensively debunked and sound practical advice is dispensed with worldly wisdom.

It also confirmed for me that Tom Bennett is, stylistically, the Bill Bryson of the educational world. The initial chapters were an interesting, colourful travelogue through a first year philosophy and ethics degree.

In fact, having read them, I wished that Mr Bennett had been on the staff at Reading University in the late 80s and early 90s – I would have picked things up a lot more quickly and probably wouldn’t have switched subjects.

Possibly however, they didn’t add a lot to the main thrust of the book, which would have made its point quite well without them.

Having said that, the reader can hardly complain, I might have gone my whole life without knowing that the man who said “Cogito ergo sum” – I think therefore I am – died because the Queen of Sweden made him get up too early!

If the book suffers from anything, it is a lack of pedagogical response to the theories that it so eloquently knocks down. The common sense suggestions at the end of each chapter are useful, but the “what do we do now?” section, feels like something of an afterthought.

Or perhaps that only feels faintly disappointing because at some level, like everyone else, I’ve bought into the “magic bullet” theories of education over the years and that even at the end of this book I was rather hoping that Tom had a new cure to offer.

I’m sure that he’s right though, common sense and hard work don’t make headlines, but they make a difference: “No-one wants to go on a diet: everyone wants a gastric band.” Review: Tom Hill

Teacher Proof

By Tom Bennett

£17.99

ISBN: 9780415631266 (www.routledge.com/education)


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