The Most Important Book You Could Read As A Teacher

Jul 16, 2013

Category: Words    Tags: , , ,

The most important book you could read as a teacher isn’t a book on class management or how to motivate the unmotivated.

It’s not a book to help you excel in the classroom or show you how to get your students to excel either.

It’s not a book you’ll dip into every day, in fact it’s about a subject that you possibly may never need to deal with in a professional capacity.

At just over 75 pages, it’s readable in a couple of hours.

And, although it is written by one of Education’s more well-known names, it’s as much down to his children as himself.

This is the book…

…and here’s why we think ‘The Little Book of Bereavement for Schools’ by Ian Gilbert is the most important book you could read as a teacher:

    1) The big things in life, the things that really matter, aren’t SATs scores or exam grades. They’re character-based things like hope and resilience and honesty. They’re the things that happen to us that exhilerate us or shake us deep inside. Literally ‘core’ things. Character, beliefs and values are far more important than the curriculum. Aren’t they?
    2) Out of all of these ‘big things’, dealing with death and coping with grief is surely the biggest anyone will ever have to encounter. This is true of us whatever our age, but especially tough to deal with for children.
    3) Our job is not just to teach subjects, we have an in loco parentis obligation to nurture, guide and help – to gently mould characters. To provide support where it’s needed. To be bothered. To care.
    4) Would it not be remiss of us to not take the time, then, to dwell on this most sombre of “big things”? Aren’t we obliged (compelled) to be prepared so that if the worst ever happens, we are able to help that student (and his/her family) at the worst time of their lives? Or is something else more important?

The Little Book of Bereavement for Schools’ is a personal book. Following their experiences (good and bad) of how teachers and schools dealt with them when their mother passed away, Ian Gilbert’s children worked with their father to come up with a series of pointers when dealing with bereaved children. The book is motivated in equal part by appreciation for teachers who reacted considerately and a frustration (anger at times) with those that didn’t. The way you deal with someone else’s bereavement is remembered.

Ian Gilbert and his family speak from experience. Schools don’t always get this right. And they should. Headteachers aren’t always prepared. And they should be. Class teachers don’t always behave with consideration. And they should. To open up enough to write about personal tragedy is admirable on the author’s part — to ignore it is negligent on ours.

If, like us, you think that we have a duty to help pupils through the really big things in life, do consider investing in a copy. Our usual Amazon Associate links aren’t appropriate — just Google the book title and get a copy. If you recognise its value, you’ll do it. We hope you never need its contents in a professional capacity, but we’re not naive enough to suggest that will be the case. In 9 years teaching at KS2, children were bereaved twice in schools we worked at and a colleague also passed away in service.

Not knowing what to do (or say) when the worst happens isn’t an excuse. We owe it to those in our care to be prepared.

That’s why, quite genuinely, no other educational book holds quite the same importance for us.


– All proceeds of the book go to Nicky’s Way — child bereavement support run by St Nicholas Hospice Care
– You can follow Ian Gilbert on Twitter, read his latest musings and find out more about “the world’s most education-oriented stand-up comedian” here!
– Ian’s Independent Thinking website is here
– If you care about the subjects dealt with in this book, you may also like to sign this epetition — a trained counsellor in every high school and all headteachers to attend a Bereavement Study Day isn’t much to ask, is it? Follow @LileesCB on Twitter for more details.
– Some other useful organisations dealing with bereavement are Child Bereavement UK, Childline, Rainbows and Winston’s Wish. There are many others.

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