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 asked
to 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 to
consult 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. The
lesson 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 teachers
beyond 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
From the Back Cover
'If we want thinking children, we need thinking teachers', says Oliver Quinlan at the start of his book. He's dead right - and, systematically and skilfully, he shows us what that means. The result is a book of considerable depth, yet written with a lightness of touch that makes it eminently readable.
Geoff Barton, Head Teacher, King Edward VI School, Suffolk
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.
Quinlan gets the reader to move on from thinking of 'learning as acquiring to learning as becoming'; in other words, he is advocating a classroom based around students becoming participants in the subject rather than possessors of certain, closely defined slices of it. This shift in thinking transforms a subject from a collection of knowledge or skills to be gained to a field of discussion, a community and a space.
Dr Jacek Brant, Institute of Education
The main aim of this book is to inspire you to develop yourself as a 'thinking teacher', who will naturally help to nurture thinking children with the skills and aspirations to shape a truly successful and fulfilled future.
Helen Mulley, Editor, Teach Secondary magazine
Quinlan makes an impassioned plea in this manifesto for teachers and school leaders everywhere: don't stop thinking. He makes a convincing case that making time to think is not just the key ingredient of great learning, it's also in the make-up of our top teachers.
Ewan McIntosh, founder NoTosh.com
Oliver Quinlan is an educator with experience from Early Years and Primary to Higher Education. His background has involved developing the use of new technologies and pedagogical approaches based on authentic learning and communication for children and new and existing teachers. He has been a teacher, a Lecturer in Education and is now Programme Manager for Digital Education at Nesta, working on innovation projects in education.