Becoming a Teacher

Author(s) Dillon, Justin & Maguire, Meg
Publisher Open University Press
Published 2001
Pages 293
ISBN 0335208614
Reviewed by Tony Rea
Senior Lecturer in Education, Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University
Review published 1 December 2004

"If you are learning how to be a teacher, then this book has been written for you." So begins the second edition of this well known reader written and compiled by a group at the School of Education, Kings College, London. New chapters, including citizenship, literacy and inspection, bring the book up to date without diluting either the quality or accessibility of the read.

The book is aimed at the trainee and newly qualified teacher, though it is not a manual on how to reach standards. Rather than adopting a deficit model of teacher education and offering tips on how to become a successful teacher, the book explores a number of key issues for the developing professional. These issues range from educational and social policy making to the role of the form tutor. The introductory chapters seek to make sense of the trainee experience in terms ranging from personal and professional qualities to educational theory and research, urging the new teacher to be experimental and to adopt a life-long approach to learning about their vocation. The main part of the book then provides an overview of recent education policy decisions and current initiatives before investigating some important aspects of teaching and learning. Finally the book examines a number of key cross-curricular issues; including spiritual education, healthy schools, and ICT. Throughout, the book engages with educational research. Links are made to recent findings and the references are valuable.

In an overview such as this there is bound to be generalisation. Certainly the chapter on excellence in cities contains a somewhat simplified account of nineteenth century British social history and its view of developments in the latter part of the twentieth century is heavily reliant on Will Hutton's analysis. Ann-Marie Brandom's chapter on citizenship gives a shortened account of developments that led to the Crick report and the challenges now facing schools in implementing the citizenship curriculum. On the other hand, Paul Black's chapter on ideology, evidence and the raising of standards contains stimulating insights into the factors underpinning policy making on assessment which are based on his first hand experience as chair of the TGAT group. Without exception, however, all of these pithy summaries provide a useful context for the accounts of research findings.

This book will no doubt find itself on the reading list of countless undergraduate and postgraduate trainee teachers, and quite rightly so as it provides a good starting point for new professionals. It deserves a wider readership, however, as it offers an equally stimulating refresher to the more experienced teacher.