Real, not fantasy

16th December 1994 at 00:00
I must admit I find myself attracted to entertaining reviews. Paul Noble's critical review of Collaborative Learning in Staffrooms and Classrooms (TES, October 21) moved me to buy the book and, attracted by his claims that "collectors of jargon may find a few gems here", I looked for the "Teflon-coated ideas" and the "stepping blindly into the world of fantasy".

Instead, I found some of the most interesting evidence of collaborative learning in schools I have read. I found myself congratulating the editors, Colin Biott and Patrick Easen, on showing teachers working and learning together and especially for providing evidence on how teachers are promoting and fostering children's participation in classroom-learning communities.

I looked for the jargon on "burst writing", one of Noble's gems. Instead of jargon I found some delightful evidence of a teacher helping pupils to become good response partners to each other's work. No jargon here, just good quality evidence from the pupils on the development of their writing.

By now I was in urgent need of "stepping blindly into the world of fantasy" as promised by Noble. Instead I entered the real world of children working in groups to solve real problems.

I found his review so remarkably unfair to the quality of the presentations of the teachers and pupils that I am left wondering if he still has the humility to learn something from the pupils on what it takes to be a good response partner in relation to a truly educative text.

JACK WHITEHEAD

Lecturer in education

School of Education

University of Bath

Bath

Avon

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