The care labs;Reviews;Education Books;Secondary

27th February 1998 at 00:00
THE ART OF THE TUTOR DEVELOPING YOUR ROLE IN THE SECONDARY SCHOOL. Michael Marland and Richard Rogers. Fulton pound;12.99.

Many texts on tutorial work are little more than compendiums of assorted techniques, routine worksheets and piousexhortation. So it is refreshing to encounter a book that isconcerned as much with principles as with practice, and where the emphasis is on tutorial time seen as a workshop of learning and growth, rather than as anaimless, unfocused gathering.

The authors declare that "for many years there has been a fear of the theoretical" and an "imbalance in favour of doing" in tutorial work. One of the great strengths of this book is the way it establishes that children develop personal and social skills not by mere reaction to each event, but through developing an objective learning "distance" in order to glean lessons for the longer term.

Organised in eight concise chapters with sub-headed sections within each, the scope of topics covered is comprehensive, ranging from "the idea of a person" to "self-assessments", from "knowing and judging" to "using source material". A number of pro formas provided are commonplace, but readers will find the example of a new tutor's introductory letter to parents invaluable.

The charismatic voice of Michael Marland predom-inates, and occasionally the text slips into the first person, with specific reference to Marland's own school, North Westminster Community School. At times his flight of language verges on idealised rhetoric but it remains grounded enough in the familiar challenge of day-to-day tutor experience to inspire the reader. Hence, while we read that "childhood is a journey through admonition, exhortation and advice", concrete help is also given on contacting parents, bullying and the referral process to senior managers.

A powerful image reflected throughout the book is of the tutor room as "the laboratory of pastoral care, and the tutees both the scientists and the experimental material". Within this dynamic environment, the tutor has to guard against the guidance role being obscured by administrative tasks, and to "help all individuals without always giving individual help".

While not significantly adding to the thinking advanced in Marland's previous volumes on pastoral care, sound counsel permeates this book, and it rightly argues for the same rigour in planning tutorial work as in the mainstream curriculum. Failure to do so will result in children quickly seeing through the self-deceiving games adults play. As one pupil remarks in this book: "It's funny how teachers make out the tutorial period's important, but they don't do anything in it!" Graham Handscomb is principal adviser for Professional Development of the Essex Learning Services Directorate

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