Following on from the resounding success of Ian Gilbert’s Independent Thinking book (see our review at here), the educationalist is back with his Second Big Book, challenging that we, “Insist that your children look ‘beneath the surface’ and are given space, encouragement and skills to think for themselves”, and intact, that we challenge everything – superiors, job titles, systems, everything that you feel is getting in the way of all children achieving what they are truly capable of. Inspiring stuff? Well, isn’t that what we all dream of – but always seems just out of reach.
This book review originally appeared in the January 2016 free Edition of UKEdMagazine
Along with a plethora of contributors, this book aims to give hope, liberation and respect back into teaching and learning, challenging the very core of the Western Educational Systems who are moving away from progressive, skills-based, child-centred, discovery-driven approaches. Noam Chomsky gets mentioned who said that education for the hoi polloi has always been about ‘passivity and obedience’, whereas education for the elite is all about creativity and independence.
Why should creativity be exclusive to the elite few? Gilbert advocates that, through critical pedagogy, we should challenge students to dig beneath the surface, and have the courage to justifiably ask ‘why’.
What then follows is a collection of short essays, by a group of teacher contributors, that allows the reader to start thinking and developing their classroom practice to make a difference and create the best conditions for powerful learning: Mark Creasy talks about his REVOLT acronym, helping us develop the most effective learning environment for every child; Dave Harris challenges that School Improvement is not a numbers game – recognising the individuality of each school; Dr Phil Wood talks of the eternal search of Educational Research, a framework to help question, explore and gain insights into educational problems; Hywel Roberts writes about turning attention to obsession, when pupils ask (for the right reasons) to stay in a break time, so they can continue with their learning, or when students bring in work from home related to the subject that you’re teaching, of which you didn’t ask them to complete; Jonathan Lear talks about unexpected monkey sex. We shall say no more.
These bite-sized(29) chapters are perfect for quick tips, quick reads, and quick conversation starters, which can easily be recognised in all schools, and although we have mentioned only a few of the chapters, there is certainly something for everyone.