‘You Make Me Wanna Be a Better Man.’ A review of ‘This Much I Know About Love Over Fear…’ by John Tomsett

There’s something about blogging which has provided me with a better understanding of how education has brought me to this point in my life.  The more autobiographical posts have allowed me to think of my own learning and,  I think, it is that approach which has helped me to improve in the classroom. In a sense, we often thrive on our autobiographies unconsciously when we are in the classroom. Reading John Tomsett’s book ‘This Much I Know About Love Over Fear’ exemplifies that exactly. Mr Tomsett has written  a beautifully nuanced reflection of his life and how it made him the man he is today.

I’ve met John on a few occasions – at a Pedagoo event and even in his own school at ReserachEd last year. Along with his Director of Learning and Reserach, Alex Quigley, there is something extraordinary about these two. Not merely where they work and what they create but their very presence convinces you of their commitment to the learning of their students. Mr Tomsett’s book is a reminder to all of us of the importance of learning in our lives and how our experiences influence where we go and what we do. It is a beautifully written, honest account of Mr Tomsett’s life in teaching and a life we could all all learn from.

At PedagooLondon a couple of years back, I heard Mr Tomsett speaking  about his challenging boys’ class and the writing they did on the Rumble in the Jungle. It was one of those sessions in which you could have sat for hours; not merely that I was stealing every idea I heard but John’s genuine love for these boys shone through in every word. He recounts that work again here in the book and it is compelling stuff. What wouldn’t I give to have been in that classroom with those boys. It is a stunning chapter, filled with compassion and hope.

There may be things you disagree with here – I’m not sure that the section on lesson planning made that particular part of teaching any less onerous – but his reasoning is honest, intelligently thought through and packed full of humanity and humility.  However, I was writing down lines from almost every chapter about how to be a better teacher and a better person. Reading Mr Tomsett’s book – and Alex’s excellent ‘Teach Now’ – confirmed that education books have reached a new era. Blogging has resulted in an explosion in writing – and good writing too – about education. Many more have a voice. ‘This Much I Know…’ is as much autobiography as instruction and all the better for that.

What we learn from Mr Tomsett’s book is that ‘love’ is a word that we should embrace in teaching not fear or feel uncomfortable with. A love of teaching. A love of colleagues. A love of learning. But, most importantly, a love of the students he teaches and is responsible for. Perhaps if we looked more to our own stories in education we may develop a greater understanding of our present. I loved this book and wish I could write as well. It has set a bar for my own writing.

2 thoughts on “‘You Make Me Wanna Be a Better Man.’ A review of ‘This Much I Know About Love Over Fear…’ by John Tomsett

  1. I loved John’s book, too, Kenny – and enjoyed reading your review of it. The basic principle of NOT allowing your own fear (which is an inevitable emotion for all leaders at some stage) to spread to those you lead, while still showing your essential humanity, is a great lesson for leaders at all levels.

    I find myself quoting JT a lot, as those who’ve heard me speak will realise!

  2. Pingback: ‘You Make Me Wanna Be a Better Man.’ A review of ‘This Much I Know About Love Over Fear…’ by John Tomsett | The Echo Chamber

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