5 out of 5 stars

Combining sage insights from the disparate likes of Confucius, Bruce Lee and Phil Collins with his own experience as an international IT trainer; Christopher Bramley has compiled a deceptively concise and readable guide to effective teaching. Full of useful tips and sensible information, ‘Involve Me’ asserts virtually any subject can be made interesting and engaging. What you need is flexibility, creativity, humour, a good, honest relationship with students – and a few tricks up your sleeve. These include “mental parsley” in the form of regular off-topic breaks to “cleanse the mental palate”. “Elbow Room” allowing time for the unexpected and unplanned. “Deep Ending” to challenge students “to the nth degree.” And the ability to “flow around a problem like water” – an attribute of which the late actor Bruce Lee would apparently have been proud. Boring “information crammed dumps” and “death by PowerPoint” are out.. With quirky asides (Bramley describes how he has deep-ended himself many times) the author’s infectious enthusiasm comes across loud and clear. This is not a training manual he insists but; “a set of observations and techniques that I believe make a difference.” And they are as relevant to other fields as they are to his own area in IT, he adds. A recurring theme is that the learning process is not for the students alone. Tricky questions, class discussions and joint problem solving means the teacher learns too. Don’t claim to know the answer to every question, says Bramley. It can look very cool if you solve a thorny issue by working it out in-front of, or with, your class. Championing the principle of “student driven” learning; ‘Involve Me’ is full of helpful information written in a simple, engaging style. It ranges from optimal class size, course structure, pace and timing to how to manage personal connections and different cultures, classroom atmosphere and tricky students. The book also deals with presentation techniques, the use (or not) of handouts and PowerPoint and how to respond to feedback and criticism. It takes its title from a 2500 year old saying by Confucius which is just as relevant today; ‘Tell Me and I Will Forget, Show Me and I May Remember, Involve Me and I will Understand…

– Ingrid Morris, Journalist