Top 5 books influencing Teaching and Child Development at Radnor
I'm often asked for a list of some of the books which have influenced our philosophy and processes at Radnor.
1 - Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan.
The author sets herself the target of visiting many of the top performing countries as rated by the internationally recognised PISA league tables. Rather than an empirical study of data and systems Lucy embeds herself with families who live and breath the different school systems to gain an insight often lost in more scientific studies. At Radnor we used some of the ideas around multi-disciplinary meetings to further enhance the cross-over between the academic and pastoral sections of the school, paying particular attention to those children who are not achieving their minimum expected grades.
2 - Educating Ruby by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas.
I heard Bill speak at a conference two or three years ago and was blown away by his clarity around what schools should be teaching and what they were actually teaching. The book aims to connect the sometimes abstract world of education with the very practical demands of business and industry. From this an understanding starts to develop that behaviours and mindsets far outweigh more immediate academic targets . We've developed some of our systems around "Behaviours for Learning" in this way and tried to encourage pupils and teachers to concentrate on how tasks are approached rather than simply the results achieved.
3 - Mindset by Carol Dweck.
This is a seminal read which continues to influence education around the world. Dweck challenges many of the long held beliefs around intelligence and ability by asserting that the way we think about our own learning heavily influences our eventual output. For example, if we consider our abilities fixed then effort has little impact so why try? Instead, if we believe that we can grow smarter with practice we see students develop resilience in the face of failure and see setbacks simply as part of the journey. The whole approach support our "limitless minds" philosophy perfectly.
4 - Making every lesson count by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby.
The authors suggest six principles to support great teaching and learning. This is a very practical read for teachers with lots of actionable ideas that they can use in their classroom. In an age when the inspection regime is changing and less direction is given about how to deliver lessons from Ofsted this book is full of how to really get the best out of students. We've been using some of the ideas around "challenge" this term to raise the bar and ensure that lesson content is stretching from the first minute.
5 - Developing Mental Toughness in Young People by Doug Strycharczyk and Peter Clough.
This book provides some essential background on the scientific debate around resilience. Social media plays a part, parenting techniques are important but of most interest to me were the words "experiential learning", the idea that not everything can be taught in a classroom. Very obvious you may say but when trying to understand how to practically improve resilience in teens and pre-teens it's an important starting point and is influencing Radnor's approach to adventurous outdoor education. More on this to follow in the next few months.
So there we are, not exhaustive but a decent starting point for anyone interested in education and child development.