Aspects of Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools: Perspectives on Practice

Author(s) Bourdillon, H & Storey, A
Publisher Open University, Routledge/Falmer
Published 2002
Pages 336
ISBN 0415260809
Reviewed by Lyn Overall
Sheffield Hallam University
Review published 1 December 2004

Hilary Bourdillon and Anne Storey, with contributions to some chapters from other colleagues, offer explanations about teaching in England and Wales. The book is designed for students on flexible PGCE routes. Clearly, it will also meet the needs of those on conventional and GTP routes as well.

Two sections, the second and third are essentially, practical, information giving and largely reassuring, with theory grounded advice about teaching and learning. These chapters are always competent and sometimes excellent. The chapter on assessment in particularly fine, reminding readers that how learning is done should be as important as what is learned. The book appears to takes the social justice agenda as a given. Whether all beginning teachers will respond as positively may be less certain. Do beginning teachers share the ideas about inclusive education and the role of the teacher that are expressed here? Does their experience before and during their preparation as teachers offer any certainties that prejudice will be addressed as an opportunity for inclusion and that the wider role of the teacher is one that will be welcomed?

The third and final section has two chapters. The first offers a view on school effectiveness and improvement. Appropriately, the final chapter provides the history of and the context for continuing professional development.

It is the first section that makes this book distinctive. It is a rich introduction to the academic study of education. The reader is offered some comprehensive reviews of pertinent research about the context of education, its curriculum, subject knowledge and the relationship between language and learning. It usefully introduces the critique of practice that reflective teachers need. For example, having reviewed the possible implication of language theory on learning theory - 'multiple intelligences' and 'deep learning' are mentioned - , the reader is invited to think about ideas about achievement and underachievement. Persuasively, the problematic issue of who is responsible for literacy as it relates to learning is addressed. The reader gains a clear picture of the challenge to subject teachers to include listening and speaking, reading and writing within the topics they teach. The chapters in this section may seem remote to beginning teachers struggling with their own subject knowledge and finding ways to work with classes. They may not fully appreciate its virtues. However, colleagues in both school and university should find the first section extremely helpful in providing rigour in the arguments about teaching and learning that they will have with those who they teach to teach.