Reviews

Kathryn Wegner, for Teachers College Record.

Kathryn is a researcher and teacher educator based in the United States, and we were delighted to read that she thinks that Better than Best Practice is relevant to the U.S. audience.  Here’s how she concludes the review:

Brilliantly conceived, Better Than Best Practice: Developing Teaching and Learning Through Dialogue with its companion website, is both a novel and timely re-thinking of how we prepare teachers and a phenomenal practical resource. It should be on the shelf of every teacher and scholar interested in improving the craft of teaching.

Klára Šeďová, What Can Be Better Than the Best? Studia paedagogica vol. 19, n. 4, 2014.

Klára is one of the leaders of a lively classroom discourse research group located at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.  Her review provides an excellent summary of the book’s key points, highlights its strengths, notes critically some omissions, and elaborates on the issue of pupil participation, a theme which cuts across a number of chapters.  Here’s a paragraph that captures well what we were trying to achieve in the book (and succeeded, at least vis-a-vis one reviewer):

Although the publication is primarily written for practicing teachers, even academic experts dedicated to dialogic pedagogy, classroom discourse, teaching methods, and teachers’ professional development will find it useful. The theoretical introduction (Chapters 1 and 2) is rather sparing and the analysis itself is unequivocally data driven. The authors possess theoretical erudition, without which they would be unable to conduct the analysis at this level. The quotations from the literature are mostly placed in footnotes, and the book can be read and understood even without referring to them. It is a very unpretentious way of presenting research, which does not diminish the value of the knowledge and ideas in the text. Simply put: the book is easy to read but encourages deep reflection on the phenomena it presents. The multi-voiced and multilayered way in which the book is structured leads the readers to ask numerous questions and provide their own answers which are immediately made relative leading to new questions and a search for more accurate answers.

M. Shaun Murphy, Better than best practice: Developing teaching and learning through dialogue. An Interview with Author, Dr. Adam Lefstein. Teaching and Teacher Education vol 37, January 2014, pp. 165–168.

Shaun and I had an enjoyable conversation about the book over Skype, which he then wrote up more or less verbatim as a book review interview (and posted the video as well).  This review-interview genre is refreshing and thought-provoking, though the unfortunately conversational structure does not lend itself to snipping out a pithy quote showing how much the reviewer liked the book.  Nevertheless, here’s a snippet of one of the reviewer/interviewer’s questions:

As a public school teacher I was pleased to note the reality of the videos. I was a classroom teacher for about 20 years and what I liked about the videos is, in your words, they felt real, they weren’t cleaned up, they weren’t “this is how you should do it”. Kids weren’t paying attention, kids were talking to each other, and some very much contributed to the conversation that was going on. Everybody wasn’t attentive … it was very much a real classroom. Can you talk about the use of video? The other thing that I appreciated in your book was the use of diverse voices in your commentary section. What did that provide you with in terms of the work of analyzing the videos?

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