Book Review: Never Mind the Inspectors, Here’s Punk Learning by @Totallywired77

Punk Learning: Hairstyle Optional
Punk Learning: Hairstyle Optional

When you think about the term ‘punk’, you are usually faced with stereotypical images from the late 1970’s of young people with radical hairstyles, who enjoy a loud, fast-moving, and aggressive form of rock music. Unless, of course, you are from the USA, where the term can also be quite a derogatory term depicting a worthless person.

What place has this impression within the modern day education system? Tait Coles, author of “Never Mind the Inspectors, Here’s Punk Learning”, sets out the stall that Punk Learning should embrace the principles behind the punk era:

“Punk learning is authentically defiant and wildly inventive. We should be planning learning with and for the students. And we shouldn’t settle for marginal impact in lessons – we should demand magnificence!”

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In fact, Coles calls for teachers to cause chaos, ignore the inspectors, and do what is best for the pupils who you have gauged understanding with. How can a stranger who attends your classroom once in every couple of years for a momentary snap-shot of your teaching matter? The background to punk learning stems to individuals who look at things differently, take risks, be creative, have ownership and create, with the book advocating that this can be done by the teaching profession, who can re-claim education for the best of the students.

So, how is this achievable? Well, in typical punk fashion, the first rule is that there are no rules – in fact, poking two fingers at the world will suffice! The important and serious argument about this is letting go of control, allowing pupils to come up with ideas on how they want to approach subject matter. This takes time, bravery and trust, with the teacher needing time to build an effective environment and culture of which pupils will trust. The ethos is to challenge your current thinking and priorities, shaking them around a lot, and see what comes out at the other end, doing the best for your pupils – not the inspectors. (Review continues below image)


The message throughout the book is to give your pupils power in their learning helping unite students on their learning journeys. But it is not just a philosophy as practical ideas and tips are shared throughout, such as Question Formulation Techniques™ plans of action; how to use SOLO taxonomy; developing critique in your classroom, to point to a few for example.

Here’s a challenge for you, from the book, to try on yourself (and possibly your colleagues):

In order, which features of a traditional lesson do you actually need? Put them in order of priority…

  • Bell work
  • Differentiation
  • Mini plenaries
  • Learning objectives
  • Starters
  • Worksheets
  • Teacher-led discussion

Which one is last for you? Ask yourself whether you really need it then?

This book is a manifesto. It’s a call to arms. The book, quite simply, demands that teachers should challenge the conventions and complacency that is evident in schools across the globe, allowing pupils to be central to the plans of education, rather than being disengaged onlookers who have a pivotal part to play, but are often ignored.

The philosophies within this book will challenge readers, but it is what many need who are currently working in the education system – possibly not for those “supporting conservative and conformist tripe, right wing propaganda and promoting ‘Taylorism’ in UK education”.

Never Mind the Inspectors, Here’s Punk Learning, written by Tait Coles (@TotallyWired77), is published by Independent Thinking Press, with an RRP of £12.99*, however available on Amazon by clicking the link below:

*Price correct at time of publication.

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