12th September 2003 at 01:00
THE DON'T SWEAT GUIDE FOR TEACHERS: cutting through the clutter so that every day counts. By Richard Carlson. Don't Sweat PressHyperion pound;7.99

Just as schools become thronged with wall-to-wall teaching assistants, yet more help arrives. This small-format paperback from the United States is divided into 100 problems faced by teachers. The really neat thing is that every problem has a solution.

The guide's strength is the range of issues it covers. The advice is clear, if not original. For example, you are advised to create anticipation and suspense in lessons by leaving open questions for the next session. This may be more tricky with differential calculus than with drama. The style throughout is direct and engaging. Many of the current areas of concern in education are included: workload, the limits of responsibility and the culture of targets and measurable outcomes.

One unusual method for dealing with the competing demands teachers face is to use the analogy of the triage system, ranking them and responding in order of urgency. This process will be familiar to enthusiasts of television hospital dramas. The teaching style the guide promotes is informal and inclusive. The publishers intend it to be presented by pupils to special teachers; perhaps the most important message, one that continues to elude some managers in education, is that teachers should be valued.

Ray Oliver teaches science at St Albans girls' school, Hertfordshire

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