Listener Book Review: Education: A Manifesto for Change by Richard Gerver
Mia Pledger, Learning Technologist
Through a mixture of anecdotes and reflections on his time as a teacher, Gerver takes a critical, yet optimistic look at the state of education, considering some topical debates including whether technology will replace the teacher, the impact of social media and whether the current curriculum is preparing our learners for tomorrow’s world. To begin with, I found the book to be on the preachy side however, the further I read the more I found myself agreeing with his observations, experiences and suggestions for a better future.
The ongoing message of working together as a community is accompanied by commentary on the increased tendency for siloing subjects and departments within schools, mirroring a similar state between industries in wider society. I enjoyed that Gerver drew upon the likes of big business such as Google, Apple and Pixar to demonstrate how much there is to learn from each other, arguing that the education sector should work with business in order to gain insight into the world that we should be preparing students for. What is clear is that Gerver really values the teaching profession as well as teachers and students as individuals. He frequently champions teachers while providing practical advice which is people focussed (rather than system focussed) for empowering learners, staying optimistic and cultivating community.
Although this book is addressed to educators, I believe that anyone with an interest in education can take something from it, most importantly tips for staying positive, optimistic and working together: skills required throughout life and industry while also apt in the current world climate.
Kate Broadribb @RibbK, Teacher, senior leader of learning, DfE teacher reference group
I am laying my bias straight down. I really liked this book. It took me just a few sittings to read it as so many of the arguments I found myself nodding along with in agreement that I got many a strange look on the train!
Chapter one – ‘Peace’ – begins by laying out some recognised, but sometimes forgotten truths that we as teachers we are all on the same side:
“Education needs us all, no matter our philosophical position, to come together” (Page 14). It made me instantly think of the great Rita Pierson’s TED talk about personal relationships and how despite all the challenges in our way as educators we ‘do it anyway’.
It was in chapter 3 – Beyond the walls – that I mentally started applauding the author. I am privileged to work with colleagues at my school who discuss where the ‘learning’ fits into the wider world and what skills we can support students to develop for life beyond school so this was great fodder to our cause.
Chapter 4 took me the longest to read as it gave me so much to reflect on. Here technology gets a nice mention. It is true there are research projects and evidence that show how innovative uses of technology can support engagement and progress, but why has it not had a transforming influence yet? I have spent a lot of time since reading this book asking my colleagues if we are preoccupied with the ‘wrong things’ where EdTech is concerned.
From here the chapters move to consider the culture and leadership in school linking back to the opening thread that together, working as part of the ‘gang’ we can create the most brilliant and supportive learning environment for ourselves and our students.
Overall I may not have learned lots of new information, but it is a very well written book that inspired me, deep in my preoccupation with Year 11 intervention to think a bit differently & start to ask some bigger questions.