Mentors need more than tips

22nd November 1996 at 00:00
TEACHING PHYSICAL EDUCATION: A GUIDE fOR MENTORS AND STUDENTS By Anne Williams Quality in Secondary Schools and Colleges series David Fulton Pounds 12. 99.

Anne Williams has provided mentors, students and teachers with a broad account of teaching physical education. Such a short book cannot hope to cover everything, but it does offer a straightforward guide to practice. Mentors will be relieved to see their new responsibilities set out so clearly, and students will find many useful tips.

The emphasis on task setting in the chapter on teaching strategies is particularly welcome, though advice on when a task is complete and what targets can be set would help students and mentors to recognise the significance of this role.

The chapter on assessment lacks information on sources for gathering evidence about young people's progress. Much more needs to be made of what counts as appropriate evidence of progress. Differentiation, however, is dealt with more effectively than in most books.

I am not convinced that a review of Mosston teaching styles is helpful and I would prefer mentors and their students to explore ways in which pupils share in the learning process, move from dependence to independence and generate a sense of ownership of their work.

In PE the emphasis is often on teaching with insufficient attention paid to learning. This is a major problem for PE because we have spent so little time helping teachers to master the skill of facilitating learning. Pedagogy also needs to be more clearly developed. Research on teaching and learning needs to be made more accessible so that we can offer criteria for effective teaching.

The mentoring task encompasses much more than Anne Williams's book suggests. The transfer of responsibility from university to schools means that teachers have to expand their repertoire. They will need books that provide practical support and a critical stance that goes beyond simple tips for teachers.

Len Almond is a senior lecturer in the department of physical education at Loughborough University.

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