In brief

30th May 2003 at 01:00
Set Free Childhood. By Martin Large. Hawthorn Press pound;10.99.

Television is bad for your kids. It gets in the way of play and prevents proper developmental interaction with adults. It causes children to retreat to their bedrooms and they start to become withdrawn or hyperactive. Oh, and they might get too fat. And it makes your eyes go square.

Not much to argue about there (apart from the square eyes - that's what people of my generation were told by our parents). Most parents worry about TV ruling the household. But then most parents live in a world where there's too much to do in too little time, with not enough cash. They may feel guilty if their children are captured by a television programme, but at the same time they're relieved because a bit of space opens up. And they may think that whether or not their kids watch a lot of television is not the biggest problem in their lives.

If the malign influence of electronic media on children and families is a concern for you, this book gives you all the supporting evidence you could possibly need.

Supporting Learning in Primary Schools. By Rosemary Sage and Min Wilkie. Learning Matters pound;12.

This is the first in a series of teaching assistants' handbooks inspired by the Government's intention to give support staff a bigger role in the classroom.

From the start, the book shows just how far the work of the TA has progressed since those mythical days of paint-pot-washing (was it ever really like that?).

The authors observe that whereas in the early days of SATs, the TA would be used to supervise other children while the teacher administered tests, now it's common for the TA to be doing the testing.

It's clearly becoming difficult - and increasingly irrelevant - to draw a clear line between the work of the teacher and that of the TA, and this book, which covers a lot of ground in just 96 pages, has as much to say about teaching, learning and child development as might any basic primer for student teachers. In fact, because it's bang up to date, it would serve very well for that readership.

I believe that STA stands for specialist teaching assistant, not senior teaching assistant, as the authors have it when referring to the "STA course" offered by their own university department.

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