Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Teaching in dreamland, 2 Aug 2012
This review is from: Dancing About Architecture: A Little Book of Creativity (Independent Thinking Series) (Hardcover)
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Maybe I just didn't pick up on it, but "Dancing About Architecture" is aimed very firmly at an audience of secondary school arts and language teachers. Everything else is just an attempt to make the target audience appear broader than it actually is- this is, absolutely, a book for teachers. If you're a writer or a musician, don't think that this book is relevant to you- you could possibly adapt a handful of the exercises for fun, but largely, it's not for you.

It's a very fun little book in which Beadle puts forward a bunch of suggestions about how to enliven and engage students with inspirational and unusual teaching. It's full of jokes, and it oozes relaxed positivity. It's bright and encouraging, and for a few short chapters it feels like with this book and a bit of energy you could single-handedly make teaching fun again.

However, here's the downside. After a while the enthusiastic left-fieldy-ness of it started to grate, which is surprising in a book that where the main body of the text is only 83 pages long (bolstered by repeated 'cut out and keep' sections at the back, and even then, nowhere near the 200 pages that Amazon currently states). This cheeky repetition and exaggerated page count is slightly insulting.

The problem to me is that it's all so idealistic. A large majority of teachers will simply not be able to get away with some of the suggestions given here. You're a very lucky teacher indeed if you can be as offbeat and freeform as Phil Beadle seems to suggest you could so effortlessly be. I couldn't help feeling that some of the student exercises in the book would put you very close to some irate meetings with unimpressed parents demanding to know why you are filling their kids' head with nonsense instead of teaching them.

It's also so incredibly unproven. Naturally it's only a bunch of theories but there's absolutely no evidence that Beadle has necessarily even tried all of the techniques- by his own admission at several points he is simply making it up as he goes along. Regarding the writing of the book, Beadle even says "I didn't know what I was doing when I started writing it and know even less what I am doing now it is nearing an end". Quirky and witty it might be, but could you take it to a headteacher and say "why not try teaching the kids this way"? Almost definitely not.

Phil Beadle's blatant regret at not having been a rock star also grates a little- too many quotes from Brian Eno and Frank Zappa, not enough quotes from either education professionals or students to back up his advice.

So despite it being a bright, cheerful and genuinely funny little book, I'm going to have to give it a low star rating for some very mundane and practical reasons. How very 'establishment' of me...
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Nov 2012 14:45:50 GMT
A. Miles says:
Exactly right, Stuart. The sort of wacky nonsense that headmasters waste PD funding on because it''ll be a ''fun'' training day.
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Location: Cardiff, UK

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