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Doris (UK)

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Introducing Psychology of Relationships: A Practical Guide
Introducing Psychology of Relationships: A Practical Guide
by John Karter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars No! The Emperor is not Wearing ANY Clothes!, 8 April 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having been familiar with David Didau's 'Learning Spy' blog, I anticipated that much of this hefty tome would set about debunking many of the commonly held myths and politically motivated features of modern UK schools. In the past, having felt like the only person in the staffroom who could see that the 'Emperor was Stark Naked', his blog often felt like a safe space where staffroom heretics could critique the orthodoxy. This book takes many of those discussions and dissects them in a common sense and articulate way, and - more importantly - ties them back to a wide range of educational research.

Didau articulates much of the unease felt by many teachers about the various hoops that they, and their students, are expected to jump through. 'The Cult of Outstanding', the impossibility (and desirability) of 'Differentiation' in a class of 30, and 'Why Lesson Observation doesn't Work' are helpful weapons in a teacher's arsenal - something to read and digest when the system saps you of all sense of self worth and purpose. Other chapters ask us to take a reality check and ask those fundamental questions about the very purpose of education.

Morale-boosting aside, it is a sobering read, as one considers the complete dog's mess that has been made of our education system. Whilst some (i.e. exam boards, publishers, data management companies, 'Mocksted' consultants, Academy chain CEOs, to name a few) have profited excessively from the nonsense that proliferates in primary and secondary education, the people who really count - the kids and teachers on the front line - are reduced to whatever assessment criterion box into which it has been expedient to squash 'em.

I found the two appendices, penned by experts in statistics and cognitive psychology, particularly thought provoking and useful. The first explains succinctly, and with some humour, why the multitudinous seas of data that teachers and schools are expected to produce annually, if not termly, are worthless. The second explores various myths around 'intelligence', its heritability, and the implications for educators.

I was only going to give this a four star review because, as all English teachers know, we always hold one back, ha ha. No, seriously, my one criticism would be that Part One, in which Didau explores the various psychological reasons why BS (such as obvious twaddle like 'Brain Gym', through to more embedded and unquestioned concepts such as 'outstanding' teaching, and target setting based on spurious data) is allowed to proliferate in schools (e.g. cognitive dissonance, group bias, sunk cost fallacy, availability effect and so on) was a tad long-winded - whilst some of the areas covered later in the book were less developed. It would have been good too, had Didau put forward examples (not necessarily his own) of approaches or processes that might be considered when the bathwater has been thrown out. Also, perhaps having imbued the spirit of 'mini plenaries' in his earlier incarnation as an outstanding teacher, there were bits that were a tad repetitious. However, on the whole this is a really useful publication - it may stop a few teachers from throwing in the towel, and who knows - if a copy were to appear on SLT's desk - suitably adorned with post-its and highlighter ink - well, as classroom teachers find it impossible to speak Truth to Power, perhaps this publication might broach some of these uncomfortable truths for us. One can only dream.


What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong? (Paperback edition)
What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong? (Paperback edition)
by David Didau
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No, The Emperor is not wearing ANY clothes!, 7 April 2017
Having been familiar with David Didau's 'Learning Spy' blog, I anticipated that much of this hefty tome would set about debunking many of the commonly held myths and politically motivated features of modern UK schools. In the past, having felt like the only person in the staffroom who could see that the 'Emperor was Stark Naked', his blog often felt like a safe space where staffroom heretics could critique the orthodoxy. This book takes many of those discussions and dissects them in a common sense and articulate way, and - more importantly - ties them back to a wide range of educational research.

Didau articulates much of the unease felt by many teachers about the various hoops that they, and their students, are expected to jump through. 'The Cult of Outstanding', the impossibility (and desirability) of 'Differentiation' in a class of 30, and 'Why Lesson Observation doesn't Work' are helpful weapons in a teacher's arsenal - something to read and digest when the system saps you of all sense of self worth and purpose. Other chapters ask us to take a reality check and ask those fundamental questions about the very purpose of education.

Morale-boosting aside, it is a sobering read, as one considers the complete dog's mess that has been made of our education system. Whilst some (i.e. exam boards, publishers, data management companies, 'Mocksted' consultants, Academy chain CEOs, to name a few) have profited excessively from the nonsense that proliferates in primary and secondary education, the people who really count - the kids and teachers on the front line - are reduced to whatever assessment criterion box into which it has been expedient to squash 'em.

I found the two appendices, penned by experts in statistics and cognitive psychology, particularly thought provoking and useful. The first explains succinctly, and with some humour, why the multitudinous seas of data that teachers and schools are expected to produce annually, if not termly, are worthless. The second explores various myths around 'intelligence', its heritability, and the implications for educators.

I was only going to give this a four star review because, as all English teachers know, we always hold one back, ha ha. No, seriously, my one criticism would be that Part One, in which Didau explores the various psychological reasons why BS (such as obvious twaddle like 'Brain Gym', through to more embedded and unquestioned concepts such as 'outstanding' teaching, and target setting based on spurious data) is allowed to proliferate in schools (e.g. cognitive dissonance, group bias, sunk cost fallacy, availability effect and so on) was a tad long-winded - whilst some of the areas covered later in the book were less developed. It would have been good too, had Didau put forward examples (not necessarily his own) of approaches or processes that might be considered when the bathwater has been thrown out. Also, perhaps having imbued the spirit of 'mini plenaries' in his earlier incarnation as an outstanding teacher, there were bits that were a tad repetitious. However, on the whole this is a really useful publication - it may stop a few teachers from throwing in the towel, and who knows - if a copy were to appear on SLT's desk - suitably adorned with post-its and highlighter ink - well, as classroom teachers find it impossible to speak Truth to Power, perhaps this publication might broach some of these uncomfortable truths for us. One can only dream.


4M Spy Science Secret Message Kit
4M Spy Science Secret Message Kit
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cheap tat in a nice box., 19 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As I thought, this is all cheap tat beautifully presented. For a 6 or 7 year old, it ticks the box for about 10 minutes, before they realise that nothing works and they'd be better off using their imagination and putting their own kit together with cheap magnifying glass, notebook, pen, torch etc.


Vans Unisex-Adult Rainfall Black/White Wellington Boot VOK2543 8.5 UK
Vans Unisex-Adult Rainfall Black/White Wellington Boot VOK2543 8.5 UK

4.0 out of 5 stars Bit trashy looking, but comfy and cheap, 19 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for rainy day walks. It has a slightly funny shape - more like an Ugg boot than a traditional welly, and it comes up short in the calf, but the sole is thick and very comfortable and it only cost £15 so will do me.


The New Children's Encyclopedia
The New Children's Encyclopedia
by Andrea Mills
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated and informative, 16 Feb. 2012
I bought this for my 6 year old son, who asked for it for Xmas, knowing that it would probably be too difficult for him to read totally independently at this stage. However, he still loves it and spends ages poring over the pictures, reading the simpler pieces of text (i.e. headings, labels, boxes of extra info), and it has already been great for him to learn to use the index and find bigger numbers (e.g. tracking down page two-two-three). It has a good level of detail, and I can see it being useful for school projects and general reference for a good 5 or more years.

The quality of the book is good - hardback and absolutely stunning graphics.


Webber Black Wooden Picture Photo Frame with White Mount * Choice of Sizes*
Webber Black Wooden Picture Photo Frame with White Mount * Choice of Sizes*
Offered by Frame-Company
Price: £8.80

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You pay for what you get., 16 Feb. 2012
Badly made, with split in part of one frame, where the groove for the sheet of glass has been cut twice. Bought 2, one piece of glass actually plastic, one glass.
Only kept them as I figured that was what I would be getting anywhere else for a similar price. However, next time, I'd go the extra tenner and by from John Lewis, who do a nice frame with mount for about £20.


How To Be a Woman
How To Be a Woman
by Caitlin Moran
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped, 28 Dec. 2011
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
I read this book along with my all-female bookclub recently. Out of 6 of us, 6 of us thought it was weak. Poorly written, repetitive, and lacking much insight. There are a few throwaway funny lines, but after a (relatively) stronger start, the book veers into a mish-mash of personal anecdotes, impulsive reflections and ranting. Moran's life is not really sufficiently interesting to merit a published autobiography, and her insight into feminism is not particularly well thought out - lots of inconsistencies and fairly obvious observations. As part of the white, middle-class, Establishment (for despite her desire to flourish her working class credentials at every opportunity, that is what one becomes over a period of 20 years working for The Times), this book doesn't really speak to or for women from other classes and cultures.

All in all I was very disappointed, having read all the Amazon 4 and 5 star reviews and the praise on the cover - but then, looking closely at the names on the book, many of the comments are attributed to Moran's mates (e.g. Ross). And clearly, with all respect to the people who helpfully review their reads on Amazon, you wouldn't necessarily believe everything the average woman and man on the street told you.

I wouldn't waste good money on this.


Songs In French For Children
Songs In French For Children
Price: £7.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars children, french, music, 29 Aug. 2009
At first hearing I thought I'd made a terrible mistake - the production of these songs in very 1950s, oozing Disney-style cheese. However, as you acclimatise and start listening to the lyrics, you realise these are classic children's songs. My kids love them - singing along inaccurately in the back of the car. As a way of getting your young children used to the sounds of the French language, these are a fun way to start, and great too for adults brushing up their French language skills, as 'les paroles' are subtle and quite complex in places.


150 of the Most Beautiful Songs Ever (Best Ever)
150 of the Most Beautiful Songs Ever (Best Ever)
by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.05

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of piano practice; beautiful arrangements, 29 Aug. 2009
I bought this coming back to the piano after an absence of 24 years, having previously been up to Grade 6 level. This book was an excellent buy - out of the 150 songs, there are about 30-40 that I recognised and could with some success by sight. With a few months' practice, I have worked some of these up to a point where they are sounding acceptable to the family! The arrangements are good - unlike some of the "Easy to play..." type collections, these are all songs that work very well on a piano - some of the chords will stretch you and your fingers, but there are some tunes (e.g. Fields of Gold, When you go away), that are easier to tackle.

The bulk of these songs come from old musicals and films, but there are a few more contemporary ones (well, from the latter third of the 20th century!). However, you will recognise many of these songs (even if not from their original context, for example the theme from Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, which some may know as the intro on BBC Radio 1' "Our Tune"), and that makes picking them up and playing them at the right tempo a little easier. Sometimes as I wade through this book I feel like a bar pianist with a cheesy repertoire - but who cares? it's fun to dip in and lose yourself in some really beautiful music.


Your Child ... Your Way: Create a Positive Parenting Pattern for Life
Your Child ... Your Way: Create a Positive Parenting Pattern for Life
by Tanya Byron
Edition: Paperback

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top tips for dealing with toddlers and young children's behaviour, 29 Aug. 2009
Those of your familiar with Dr Tanya Byron's television programmes will know that her style of behaviour management is less about sticking the child on a "naughty step" and more focussed on encouraging parents to explore how their own behaviours and the environment around the child are impacting on the child in the first place.

Her book is useful in helping frazzled and frustrated parents step back from the situation, reflect on the 'triggers' and background to the problem behaviour they are trying to address, and provide humane and positive methods to reward and reinforce good behaviour.

Its tone is refreshingly non-judgemental; Byron does not purport to know all the answers and never presumes to lecture the parents on how things must be done. Instead she claims to try and 'empower' parents to make their own decisions as the people who know the child in question best.

I would recommend this book to all parents, as it encourages you to look at key aspects of parenting and might be a good way of preventing negative patterns of behaviour from becoming established in the first place. For parents of children who have problems with eating, sleeping, tantrums etc., this book won't provide easy answers, but would possibly offer a good starting point for working towards some solutions.


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