Accelerated learning

11th February 2000 at 00:00
THE ALPS APPROACH:Accelerated learning in primary schools. By Alistair Smith and Nicola Call. Network Educational Press. pound;17.95.

Balanced, motivated, educated primary school children? What a dream. Getting high levels of achievement and excellent results as well? If only. Well, that is why we are in primary education, isn't it? But how do you do it?

The accelerated learning in primary schools (alps) approach gives the reader an enormous amount of "what to do" and "how to do it" information. Practising what it preaches, it gives us the big picture first, with mind maps and previews, and then follows up with reviews and summaries, pictures and posters, to help keep things in mind. This is a big book in several senses: it is large in format, and it covers accelerated learning with a mastery that builds on previous work by the same people.

Based on wide professional experience of what really works and balanced by expanding brain research of the past 15 years into how and why it works, the authors explain how our brains learn best and, for good teaching purposes, particularly how children's brains (from nursery to key stage 2 tests) wor at their best.

This way, target-setting not only makes sense, but can be seen by teachers, children and parents as being helpful. Numeracy and literacy, following the new guidelines, can be used in ways that better encourage "on task" activity. The 3Rs (responsibility, resourcefulness and resilience) are shown to be of prime importance. The authors show how to promote them, along with how to manage impulsivity in the classroom.

The realm of nurturing and freeing different kinds of intelligence is simply and sympathetically opened up. With a light but authoritative touch, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic material and other learning styles are practically presented. There is much that teachers, who long for academic and social learning of high quality, will already know from their own experience, and will now be able to use with new understanding.

Balanced, motivated, educated primary school children, high achievement levels and excellent results as well? Naturally! Anyone in primary education who wants that will be excited by this book.

Martin Webb Martin Webb is head of Tyssen community school, Hackney,east London

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