“It is not often that one reads a book that makes you question the world we live in,” says Paul Williams, a former captain and coach who has become a prominent critic of Australia’s approach to teaching.
Williams says he read “a book that was absolutely brilliant, absolutely powerful and inspirational, and made me think again about the way we think, the way our culture works, and the way people want to live and the value of our education system.”
The book is “an excellent guide to understanding the ways in which people in this country are living their lives”, says the University of New South Wales’ Associate Professor Michael Deakin, who is one of the authors of the book.
“It is a really good book for anyone who wants to be a better parent.”
Deakin says the book also highlights “the importance of having children in school as opposed to the idea that we need to get them into school, that we should not be teaching them”.
“That’s not really true,” he says.
“There’s a very good argument that if you have a child in school, they’re not learning.
They’re learning more and more as they get older.”
The authors of “The Secret Life of Learning” are well known among Australian academics.
They wrote it after decades as a child of education, when they had their own kids, but the book has become widely read.
The authors include former chief executive of the Australian School of Economics and Business Professor Michael Pallas and former Labor MP Greg Barns.
It was also a bestseller in Australia in 2010, and has been adapted for television, film and digital.
But the book is unlikely to go down well with many teachers, including some who are in the classroom.
“They [the authors] do a great job of not being overly apologetic about how hard it is to be in the profession and yet they are extremely supportive of our profession,” says Michael Condon, president of the New South Welsh School of Education.
“Their book is quite frankly a very thoughtful and well written book and I think it’s going to be well-received in many areas of the profession.”
The University of NSW’s Associate Professor Dr Michael Wills has also criticised the book, saying it was “not the first book on education that was written” and that “it’s a bit of a missive to a very powerful group of people who have been doing it for a long time”.
“The book itself is a pretty good introduction to the teaching profession in general, but there’s a lot of discussion about the value system that is associated with it, and how much we need it,” he said.
He said there were “good lessons in there that I think have to be reflected in the curriculum”.
“It’s important that we’re getting the curriculum right, but I think there are good things that could be done to make sure that we have a curriculum that is a bit more reflective of our national education system,” he told news.com.au.
However, some teachers say they are sympathetic to the book’s authors.
Melanie Molloy, a social studies teacher in Perth, says the title was “totally appropriate”.
“The title is absolutely appropriate,” she said.
“We have teachers who have very much a responsibility for teaching their children, but we also have very strong teachers who are committed to teaching children that we are the best.”
Ms Mollay says she has a very different view from Ms Williams.
“I’m a strong supporter of the school and its students, and I’m very supportive of all schools and I would never advocate for anything that could detract from the quality of the schools that I work in,” she says.
“In my opinion, the book does not do that.”
Ms Mollsay says the “The Secrets of Teaching” also contains a section about “parenting”.
She says she found the chapter very useful.
“When I read the book that is not something that I can stand by, I think,” she told newscom.ai.
“It’s an excellent piece of work.
I think that there are many people out there who would be quite shocked if they read that and that’s really what it is.”
But in a different way, that section is quite well thought out.