Sue Cowley's A-Z of Teaching
By Sue Cowley
The Sue Cowley juggernaut has rolled back into town. I approached the latest book from this prolific writer, trainer and former drama teacher with some reluctance, expecting a potboiler rehash of her many earlier books (Getting the Buggers to Behave Ito Think Ito Write: you get the drift). However, the old Sue Cowley magic lives on.
Her introduction announces that she "doesn't pull any punches" and that the book is not for anyone who is "easily offended, has a rose-tinted view of the teaching profession or works for the DfES". It's a typically quirky catalogue of nitty-gritty classroom issues. For example, A is for "attitude" and Cowley reminds us that the pupils who stick in our minds are those who have it. She also, wisely, demonstrates that these pupils are often a product of their backgrounds. There's no point in patronising them by trying to be friends, or trying to scare them into submission. Instead, the message is: "You have an attitude and so do I. My attitude is that you're here to learn. Now get on with it".
The advice is always astringently practical. She admits under "absence", for example, that there will be some pupils whose absence is welcome. This A-Z of Teaching isn't a set of strategies or tips for teachers. It would probably be most useful to people at the start of their careers, chiefly because of its reassuring debunking of much of the politically correct nonsense of education. But even for old lags like me, it is an entertaining and often thought-provoking read.
Geoff Barton is headteacher at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk