By Dominic Wyse
Paul Chapman Publications pound;14.99
What a super little book this is. Like Eats, Shoots and Leaves, you pick it up thinking it's going to be dull and very soon you're engrossed. It unravels the craft of writing for would-be teachers, which is much more complex than many teacher trainers would have us believe.
Dominic Wyse draws on his experiences with students at the Cambridge faculty of education to illustrate points and to recognise where help is needed most. Whether he's explaining the difference between practice and practise or unpicking the complexity of referencing techniques, he has a warm, helpful tone that is also authoritative.
There's advice on reading widely but strategically, quickly but efficiently, by using databases such as the British Educational Index and prioritising recent journal articles. The examples of how to structure academic writing are peppered with tips such as "try at least one subheading per 500 words". Key points are reinforced in tips boxes and brief lists of do's and don'ts.
By making the implicit explicit through clear explanations and examples, this pocket-sized book will be a boon to anyone writing essays, assignments, reports, research projects, dissertations and theses. There are 42,000 people on initial teacher training courses and, with many PGCEs carrying MA level credits and the Training and Development Agency investing heavily in postgraduate professional development, more teachers will be going on to higher degrees.
The advice on grammar, spelling, proof-reading and presentation is handy for anyone who writes and teaches others to write. Let's hope plenty of people read it carefully and heed its advice. Then I won't have to have any more hissy fits over misplaced apostrophes.
Sara Bubb is a lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of London