How Teachers Learn Best

27th February 2004 at 00:00
How Teachers Learn Best

By Edward P Fiszer

Scarecrow Education pound;14.95

One quality you quickly develop as a teacher in the UK is resilience.

Batterings by parents, disaffected students and, in particular, the media can make us feel as if we are the cause of all society's ills and generally at the bottom of the league table of the universe. Edward P Fiszer's American import is a sign of how we underestimate ourselves.

Fiszer's thesis is that teachers need better professional development.

Training should be active and classroom-focused, mirroring the hands-on learning we recommend for our students. He bases his argument on a survey of 27 Californian teachers whose insights include: "peer observation is beneficial" and "opportunities for reflection and dialogue are rare". All of which, as Basil Fawlty would say, is stating the bleeding obvious.

No one would argue with Fiszer's proposals that schools should have a climate of learning, that teachers should be free to develop their own learning needs, that training should be linked to whole-school objectives.

This is all good stuff, and his 14 practical recommendations for better training are excellent. But the fact that Fiszer has to argue for it so strenuously suggests that the culture in his own US school district may be different from what we are used to.

This is an uplifting book, one that confirms much of our own good practice rather than bringing new ideas to the debate.

Geoff Barton is headteacher at King Edward VI School, Suffolk

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