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Whilst good teaching is widely reported as the number one key to raising achievement in any classroom, educating teachers in the art and science of teaching is an expensive business. Simply training them to deliver a curriculum, on the other hand, is a whole lot less troublesome. But we need teachers who can think - who can reflect on the process of learning, on pedagogy, on the nature of children and on the role of the professional 21st Century educator and, in doing so, seek to improve their profession on a daily basis. When we genuinely help our teachers develop into being better thinkers we help our children to become better thinkers too. For teachers in primary or secondary schools who want to think deeply and question the way they do things.
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I was recently sat at the back of a secondary school classroom in a Middle-Eastern country waiting for the lesson to start. Why was I there? I was on a fact-finding mission to inform me of what might be needed for a curriculum development project I had been commissioned to undertake. I had askedto meet key stakeholders: education ministers, funders, teacher-education college lecturers, school teachers and students. The ministry was suspicious of me wanting to go into a school - they had asked me to write curriculum materials to a brief for teachers to 'deliver', but why would I want toconsult with teachers, more so students? They relented as I had argued that it would help me create better materials if I understood the audience. So here I was. The teacher walked in to start the lesson, powered up the electronic whiteboard and started by going through his intended learning outcomes point by point. My heart sank - I could well have been in any classroom in England. Thelesson was good in many respects, but formulaic and predictable. There isn't anything wrong with learning objectives, learning outcomes and success criteria per se, it is just that their mechanical use often leads to uninspiring teaching and passive learning. Let's have some more thought from teachersbeyond the obvious. I was thus intrigued to receive The Thinking Teacher to review.The Thinking Teacher is not a 'how to' book; indeed, Quinlan notes that 'there is no one model of a highly effective teacher, no one set of things that these people do to make things happen'. There are many good teachers who achieve good results by following a tried and tested repertoire of teaching approaches. Quinlan argues that what separates the truly great teachers from the good ones is that they truly understand learning and the different forms it can take; they spot opportunities for encouraging it in ways that they were never taught to do. These are the individuals who can adapt their teaching t