500 Tips for Tutors

20th May 2005 at 01:00
500 TIPS FOR TUTORS (second edition). By Phil Race and Sally Brown. RoutledgeFalmer pound;18.99

I am something of a sucker for books of tips and hints. I like their practical directness. I can see that similar books for other professions could leave us feeling unnerved. Imagine settling into the dentist's chair and noticing a well-thumbed "Tips for Dentists" on the side, with a page turned down at "Practical Drilling". Not reassuring.

But in education these books appeal to my feeling that, in the main, good teaching is a learnable craft rather than a gift. No surprise then, that with a title such as "500 tips" I immediately warm to this book, even though it is aimed at higher education tutors rather than those of us working in schools.

At a time when we are working to refocus the role of the tutor on supporting students' learning, it's supremely relevant and useful to our work in schools. Here's a selection of tips, taken at random: help students to celebrate tasks completed; point out the value of jotting down questions before reading something; find out students' preferred names; learn from other people's bad teaching.

Every hint is followed by a clarifying paragraph. There are sections on working together, helping students to learn, assessment, and life skills.

Overall, this is one of the most down-to-earth and honest books about teaching I've read. A first-rate resource.

Geoff Barton is headteacher at King Edward VI school, Suffolk

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