The Secret Teacher: Dispatches From The Classroom
So it’s 2020 and I’ve been doing a bit of ‘blog-tidying’ – general clearing up of half-formulated ideas, and half-baked plans. Whilst removing the metaphorical skeletons from the closet I stumbled across this unpublished review. Written when I first set up The Reading Millennial it was destined to be one of the first reviews to feature on my blog. Oh well!
Here are my (very belated!) thoughts on The Secret Teacher.
The Secret Teacher: Dispatches From The Classroom was I book a purchased and very quickly read just before Christmas. I was out shopping for various presents and suddenly became the victim of ‘a book for them, a book for me’ – see also ‘Trust Me I’m a Junior Doctor’ – and so I found myself a cosy spot, and curled up with a cup of tea after a serious Christmas wrapping session.
I was curious about this book as I had just recently finished ‘This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ by Adam Kay, and ‘The Secret Barrister’ both of which had provided stark insights to the health & law professions respectively. This felt like a solid finale to that hattrick.
I read this book in one sitting over a lazy evening, and was impressed with both the readability and engagement levels. The Times Literary Supplement was not wrong when they said it was “frequently laugh-out-loud funny”. The writer manages to add a personal flare throughout the narrative. They also don’t stray away from some of the more difficult aspects of teaching. The book is full of heart-wrenching stories, covering homophobia and immigration.
Their passion for teaching and young-people shine through. It is clear that just like the NHS our education system has stretched too thinly, with resources and money lacking. Nevertheless, we have wonderful teachers routing for the next generation day-in-day-out.
Originally, I had wondered whether this was a continuation of the Guardian’s ‘Secret Teacher’ series – something I have been reading on my commute, and have found eye-opening especially regarding the impact of austerity on the wider education sector. The Secret Teacher manages to add a layer of humour to some of the critical issues of today: decline in pastoral care & services; target focused teaching; impact of child poverty in the classroom; and, inclusion & accessibility within classrooms.
The Goalposts Keep Moving. Education Wallahs Don’t Trust Us or Our Results. Every New Minister Has to Put Their Stamp on Education and Reform for the Sake of It by Insiting Things Change and Standards Improve. Even If They Already Have.
I haven’t been able to work out if it is a continuation of that series; however, that doesn’t make it any less valid in its arguments, or compelling in its narrative. An exciting contribution to the growing trend of professional memoirs; I very much enjoyed the easy-read nature of this book. I hope to find some harder-hitting policy based books in the near future to really develop my understanding of the education system and the intersection with politics.
The Secret Teacher: Dispatches From the Classroom in Facts:
First Published: 2017
Publishing House: Guardian Faber, a Faber & Faber imprint
Pages: 317 (307 bulk-read)