Tuesday, September 16, 2008

WORTH A READ?

The following books may be of interest to colleagues:

The Crazy Makers by Carol Simontacchi
Deep Books Ltd (ISBN 9781585426263)

Carol Simontacchi is a clinical nutritionist & her book explores the way the food industry has gained increasing influence on the collective diet. Her analysis sets out the stages by which commercial interests pander to humanity’s tendency to prefer the sweet & high fat foods. She makes the case, based on a particular interpretation of evolutionary theory, that we have evolved in conditions where food supply was scarce to an affluent modernity where ancient appetites & tastes lead to excessive consumption & epidemic obesity. Although this argument has become a common one, she provides the sort of overview that may be useful when speaking to school communities about children’s diet. The author’s key concern is the effect poor nutrition can have upon mental health.

Letting the Outside In by Rebecca Austin
Trentham Books (ISBN 9781858563916)

In this book Rebecca Austin sets out her belief that while children’s lives are increasingly lived in enclosed environments, children learn better when they have “real stuff” work with. Many colleagues & parents of children in Steiner schools will readily acknowledge the force of Rebecca Austin’s conviction. The book provides case studies & research evidence to support the value of the classroom outdoors & she also gives practical applications & examples for her ideas.

One chapter, for example, sets out how teachers can make use of an inner-city environment to enhance learning. The author suggests bringing movement into the classroom & using buildings for musical composition. Not all these ideas will strike a chord with Waldorf educators. Nonetheless, the book is a useful resource, providing a rationale for venturing beyond the confines of the classroom. There is much here to suggest that Rebecca Austin would be a comfortable fellow traveller on the trail that organisations like the Hiram Trust, Pyrites & Ruskin Mill Educational Trust have been blazing. Her argument is one that should help to put the health & safety imp in its place. Risk management is of course essential, but the necessity to carry out risk assessments should never prevent valuable learning opportunities.

Review KA 8th September

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