Book: Learning without fear by @juliastead1 and @Missvintagepink via @CrownHousePub

Published by Crown House Publishing

Learning without Fear: A practical toolkit for developing growth mindset in the early years and primary classroom













  • An excellent resource containing 40 practical activities promoting some of the theories outlined within the book.
  • Colourful images throughout the book show how theories have been applied in different classrooms.
  • Explores theories and practices that are popular in primary schools presently.
  • The book has a very thorough chapter based on assessments, offering practical ways to implement.
  • A very powerful chapter discusses and challenges how school group pupils by ability.

Supported by Crown House Publishing

Within the teaching profession, there are many theories that seem to come and go that place demands on the educator to change their practice for perceived benefits of teaching and learning within the classroom. School leaders and teachers alike can do well to recognise that theories are just that – theories. The approach to some theories will work with different individuals, whereas the same theories fail to work within similar environments. That’s what makes education so interesting – no two classes are ever the same. Some might be similar, but there are too many dynamics, nuances and variables at play.

In their new book, “Learning without Fear”, Julia Stead and Ruchi Sabharwal have attempted to create a practical toolkit for developing positive strategies for use in the early years and primary classroom. Encouraging an aspirational narrative, the book explores developing intrinsic motivation, self-regulation and metacognition helping to develop higher-order thinking in individuals. The book combines additional bite-sized theories (such as Bloom’s taxonomy, SOLO learning model – like Bloom’s, but deeper – and considerations around assessments) to help pupils develop resilience, higher-order thinking and effort.

Notably, there is a very insightful chapter titled, ‘The Ability Myth’, that starts to question how schools group pupils together according to ability. The authors argue how easy it is for us to categorise our pupils according to ability, and might even dress it up into different groupings that are less obvious. However, as Julia and Ruchi note: “Words matter. Labels limit. Children know.” Challenging notions of Learned Helplessness (read this article to learn more) are essential in any classroom, and the chapter continues to explain how teachers can use differentiation without limits and develop a mastery curriculum where all pupils can achieve. The chapter concludes with insights into the SOLO Taxonomy that can be implemented to help pupils become more secure in their learning.

Where the book excels, and can be often lacking in books that offer a plethora of theories, is the pedagogical strategies, resources and ideas that can be ‘magpied’ and tweaked for your own classroom setting.

Chapter 10 is a celebration of 40 classroom ideas that incorporate many of the theories highlighted within the book, aimed at all stages of a typical primary school, including the early years. Each activity is clearly described and sets out the resources needed along with a commentary of the intention(s).

Throughout the book, images are shared of classroom displays, resources and activities-in-action that help illustrate the approaches being advocated.

Whether you are a fan of the theories advocated throughout the book, or not, primary teachers can be inspired from the ideas, resources and strategies shared throughout the book, which are accompanied by free downloadable resources shared at the Crown House Publishing website.

At the end of the day, all primary teachers want the best for their students, and some theories and strategies will work in their classroom, whereas others won’t – this is just the nature of the dynamic characters, experiences and interactions contained within the school environment. This book shines a light of different theories that are popular within schools presently, but – more importantly – offers practical ideas and strategies that can be used easily throughout the primary setting.

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About @digicoled 446 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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