Those Who Can, Teach
‘An amazing book . . . Read it gang, honestly’ Zoe Ball
‘I haven’t read a book for a long time that so often had me close to tears’ Observer
‘Inspirational . . . You can call this good teaching; what it looks like is love’ Evening Standard
The powerful, inspiring story of Andria Zafirakou, ‘the best teacher in the world’, and what it takes to work on the frontlines of education today
Arts teacher Andria Zafirakou was always a rule-breaker. At her inner-city London school where more than eighty languages are spoken, she would sense urgent needs; mending uniforms, calling social services, shielding vulnerable teens from gangs. And she would tailor each class to its pupils, fiercely believing in the power of art to unlock trauma, or give a mute child the confidence to speak. Time and again, she would be proved right.
So in 2018, when Andria won the million-dollar Global Teacher Prize, she knew exactly where the money would go: back into arts education for all. Because today, the UK government’s cuts and curriculum changes are destroying the arts, while their refusal to tackle the most dangerous threats faced by children – cyber-bullying, gang violence, hunger and deprivation – puts teachers on the safeguarding frontline.
Andria’s story is a rallying wake-up call that shows what life is really like for schoolchildren today, and a moving insight into the extraordinary people shaping the next generation.
Praise for Andria Zafirakou:
‘A magic combination of belief and compassion’ Financial Times
‘Andria Zafirakou should be an inspiration to all’ i
‘Zafirakou’s generosity offers a gleam of hope in a world that can seem unremittingly dark’ Guardian
‘An amazing person . . . What struck me was just her sheer joy’ Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2
‘Where others might have given up, Andria has made it her mission to ensure [her students] get the best possible start in life’ Daily Mail
Part autobiography, part teaching masterclass, it's a clarion call for people to value the arts in state education, as well as a powerful reminder that a teacher ready to listen can transform a young person's life -- Will Hazell * i * A prizewinning teacher makes clear how little government understands about what goes on in schools . . . Those Who Can, Teach is a response to the government's scattergun approach to education, a plea for them to take notice of the pressures teachers are increasingly placed under, and how education policy is damaging young people. [Zafirakou's] simple, direct style often feels close to a manifesto -- Lamorna Ash * Guardian * A memoir of [Zafirakou's] time in the classroom, told through the lives and experiences of some of her most memorable and hard-to-reach pupils . . . Some of her pupils have been recent arrivals to Britain; some have escaped war; many have chaotic home lives . . . The stories she tells, of bringing these students to life in her art lessons, are little parables of possibility. They tell of students who have unlocked trauma through their drawing, or who have spoken for the first time because they found a home in the art room -- Tim Adams * Observer * This is a teacher who went out and spent over sixty pounds of her own money to buy a uniform in Asda for a boy who had no chance of getting one from home; this is a teacher who took one boy's clothes to the school washing machine during PE lessons so he'd have them clean and dry afterwards . . . You can call this good teaching; what it looks like is love . . . Art is, like music, the universal language, and what's striking is how many children, who find it near impossible to communicate in any other way, can communicate through art . . . That's the lesson of story after story; the most difficult children can come into their own when they learn that they are good at something, at art, and are recognised as good * Evening Standard * Andria Zafirakou's voice springs off the page: warm, honest and raw with passion. She is here to tell it how it is in British schools, and also what a born teacher can do about it. I am full of admiration -- Kate Clanchy, Orwell Prize-winning author of 'Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me' Achingly humane . . . Searingly wise . . . Totally riveting . . . Unmissable -- Michael Attenborough CBE
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