Gareth Malone’s Extraordinary School for Boys

It’s been entertaining watching Gareth Malone trying to teach literacy to this group of primary school boys based in a school in Essex.  

His target was to raise the reading age of boys.  In the first programme he teaches them how to debate, when most of them can’t even construct a logical argument.  In the second programme he teaches them the love for books and reading and in the final episode he tackles writing. 

At first glance it looks like the boys aren’t learning anything and that Gareth is a bad teacher. He’s not textbook, and he has made some classic mistakes like all trainee teachers but eventually he does get through to the boys.  His methods are totally against what is dictated to school teachers because he makes learning fun.  He makes it relevant to the boys’ interests and he praises their smallest achievements.  A lot of these techniques are what I use with my students. 

I encourage the children to try a new way of working out a maths problem, I encourage them to take many small steps to reach their targets and I encourage them to believe in themselves.  Yet I don’t hold their hand and confine them to their desks.  I use a variety of learning materials (including computers) and teach them how to work independently.  That way they feel a sense of achievement through their own efforts. 

But my parting questions are:

Why has a qualified professional teacher not helped him yet? Why is he not receiving additional input to better his reading skills? Perhaps the teachers haven’t noticed and have just labelled him lazy? Why has it taken a TV personality to come in to the school to notice this?

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