I was interested in these books because I thought they perhaps might detail some of the malpractice that happens in schools, or at least show some of the atrocious behaviour teachers have to put up with with no support. They do, in part.
I did find comfort at the beginning with Gilbert's description of himself as he starts out as a teacher. He is notably naive and underprepared, yet manages to make a successful career for himself. I know that myself, and many other new teachers, start out knowing much more and gaining much less.
He also describes himself as quite an unprofessional character as well - regularly ogling the female teachers and making ridiculous gaffs that cost him dearly. Again, myself and many new teachers I have spoken too have done nothing as unproffesional as this, yet are treated as though they have, and Gilbert seems to have been treated as though he hasn't.
Although the details of the lessons are given in the era where 'facilitating learning' and an emphasis on group work was just emerging, it is extrememly interesting to read how these ideas are shunned as being unworkable. There are real examples of why this is true as well. I liked that it showed how the expectations put on teachers are often based on flawed theories.
I think especially relevant is the description Gilbert gives of the culture in his second school, and how there is an expectation to not speak out about what is really happening in lessons for fear of it being blamed on your teaching. The lack of support for teachers is shown to directly effect the achievement of students.
There are also details of a teacher becoming very ill from being completely overworked.
I don't think a teacher like Gilbert would stand a chance starting out in education today, which just shows how bad the teacher bashing has become. I think he would have been put on capability early on in his career, and yet, look how successful he is. How many equally as capable teachers are being hounded out of the profession now?