Tony Gurr

Why do I need a teacher when I’ve got Google?

In Book Reviews, Our Schools, Technology on 05/03/2011 at 12:54 pm

Today, I got my fingers burnt!

Hot off the press – I thumbed my way through Ian Gilbert’s new book – a book that all educators and, more importantly, students and their parents, should read.

As you know (and as a dad) I have been a supporter of parents’ rights for years – the more we know, the better decisions we can help our kids make. OK – my “big, little girl” would like to see the level of “parentals’ democratic rights” reduced dramatically but in her heart of hearts she knows that this is the thin edge of the wedge for all of us.

Gilbert, as he does in his many other books, tackles many of the issues I raised in my earlier post – For The Times They Are a-Changin’.

Actually, if you want a really good follow-up to this post why not take a look at the very recent videos from:

OK – back to Ian’s wonderful bedtime read. That is if you don’t mind getting your fingers all inked up – I do not!

This question is one that more and more of the “Digital Generation” is asking – and so they should. Thinking is good, questioning is better. And with so many of us “oldies” saying kids are just not the “same” as they were (and meaning kids today are not as “good” as they used to be) – these are the books we should be stuffing in our kids “christmas stockings” or handing out as “Bayram seker”

But, the title of my post is not Gilbert’s only question – the book is full of them.

Actually, it should be titled “questioning the unquestionable”! Gilbert is controversial, he has an irreverent sense of humour (could be my long-lost brother or evil twin – Ian, if you want to do a “soap”, I am your man) and he “hits” hard – just what we need in education nowadays.

However, and for you more academic-types – the book is also amazingly well-researched and smartly-written.

For those of us with intellectual disorders, it’s also “chunked” into bite-sized pieces (super for reading on the bus to work) with a wide range of  appetizing “main courses”:

  • The great educational lie (p. 16)
  • What’s the real point of school (p. 99)
  • Exams – so whose bright idea was that? (p. 112)
  • Teach less, learn more (p. 172)

This is a restaurant I will come back to – again and again!

I learned Gilbert is not only a smooth operator in the “writing stakes”, he is also is also an great “marketeer” – what educator is not going to want to read a book with chapters like this?

I could not put the thing down – true, mostly because I was looking for the chapter that would help me see what he “thunks” about the biggest question and title of the book – it’s not one of his “chapters”, BTW!

Gilbert tells teachers:

This book is not designed to help you teach better. But it is intended to help you become a better teacher.

It will!

Gilbert tells students (indirectly):

The challenges facing the world are huge and the answers lie in your hands.

They do!

One of my favourite “bits” from the book is in the chapter entitled “Educated is not enough” – and he asks a great many tough questions to teachers and parents. So, let you mum and dad have a read, too. Seriously, those of you that may think that parents have no say in your future are just being silly – Steve Jobs dropped out of college because he did not want to “waste” his parents’ life savings.

Guys – you owe your parents. Nuff said! You will thank me for this advice in twenty-years – and donations to my “iron lung” and “diaper fund” are always welcome!

He also asks the question I have been asking for years (I think for principals, this time):

Is yours a teaching school or a learning school?

He does eventually answer the question posed in the title of the book (but I’m not going to tell you where – tee, hee) but also (in chapter 7) reminds us that:

To do well at school means you have to “play by the rules”. To succeed in business you need to “break the rules”.

Is this also true in the “business of education”?

In one of my very first posts, I asked everyone if they would want to read a book that was “full of questions” – I have found that book.

So, should you!


You can find Ian’s book here: Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google?: Things Every Teacher Should Know

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