Tom Husband reviews this handbook for new teachers
The ultimate teaching manual: a route to success for beginning teachers
London, UK: Continuum 2011 | Pp224 | £19.99 (PB) | ISBN9781441188861
Reviewed by Tom Husband
Gererd Dixie’s handbook is written for new teachers and its content is well catered to its intended audience. The book covers all the essentials - from legal requirements to key pedagogy - and also provides useful advice. More importantly it outlines an ethos that puts the child first in every decision.
For PGCE graduates the advice may feel like yet another voice demanding more work. Dixie constantly urges teachers to do more to find out about each individual student, to know more about their background, to make more personalised provisions in their planning and to customise more tasks to preferred learning styles. Nevertheless, he argues that such ‘extra work’ is an investment that will ultimately make life easier, especially in the crucial area of behaviour management.
It is on this latter issue that Dixie’s true passion comes through. The sections on legal requirements and pedagogy are often dry and the formal language occasionally hinders rather than illuminates. However, it is on the subject of behaviour for learning that the advice starts to stimulate and challenge. He repeatedly calls for teachers to empathise with their students and even, in a section on building relationships, invites teachers to honestly assess their own emotional intelligence. He makes a clear and well-argued division between the kind of teachers that thrive - and more importantly whose students thrive - and those that fail because they are unwilling to see things from the student’s point of view.
In spite of some questionable stylistic choices, such as the book’s ‘Highway Code’ theme, Dixie’s manual is a useful text. It would make an excellent primer for anyone preparing to start teacher training. Meanwhile, it would be the graduate of only a superlative training course who could learn nothing new from this comprehensive manual.
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