Why I read #tlap, what I thought…

A month or so ago I read Teach Like a Pirate. I am putting a disclaimer out here right now as it is not a book that I am naturally drawn too. I read it due to Jen English’s post on her blog titled Teaching is not entertainment…Is it? and the newly developed slow chat book club #bookclubED which chose this as it’s first book. I figured that if I was going to have an opinion I needed to read it.

Personally I like a book that allows me to think deeply about concepts, issues and ideas that are connected to education – students, teachers, learning and leadership. I am not easily excited about hype, I like depth and I like to question. I like to wrestle with reflective thoughts in relation to improving my practice. I am still determining if this book did this for me on any level. It did, however, annoy me more than anything else as I felt that it took a very self centred approach. Maybe that is a reflection of the individualistic society that it is written for – don’t get me wrong Australia is almost on a par with the USA with regard to individualism. There is no right or wrong re individualism or collectivism.

Personally I found the focus on entertainment and not learning somewhat concerning, along with the lack of focus of working as a team – a child’s education is more than just a moment in one class it is the whole experience within the educational setting at their school. I also felt that the book was really focused on selling a product, which again is the right of the author, but not something that interests me.

I did put my thoughts on Amazon

“I find the book lacks depth re the nature of teaching and learning. Yes it’s great to go in with hooks to grab attention, but learning is a hard process and is about relationships. Ideal book if you’re wanting some quick ideas re hooks, but you have to get more than half way through to get to that point. It’s very extrovert focussed. It’s feels very sage on the stage as teacher is the central point. I’m not suggesting give it a miss, just be aware that it’s very focused on entertaining, grabbing attention and teacher at the centre rather than the how of placing learning and the learner at the centre.”

I was also concerned about the brushing off of importance around providing good feedback to students through assessment of their work and providing that in a timely manner. I believe that inherently the author and I have significantly different values in relation to education and learning.

When I reflect on books I have read over the last couple of years, and ones I am reading at the moment, there are two that stand out for me:

  •  Quiet by Susan Cain which has provided valuable insight into providing opportunity for the introvert and valuing them both as a learner and as a leader.
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck (currently reading) which provides a fabulous insight into the fixed and growth mindset. Neither is right or wrong, the mindset you use does impact on approach and potential outcomes – a powerful message re understanding learning and leadership.

So by now I think you can understand why Teach Like a Pirate is not a book I would recommend.


  1. aarondavis1 says:

    I think that topics like engagement are so complicated. I haven’t read TLAP, but on what you have said, my biggest concern is that if the teacher next door is a pirate, it kind of underwrites you and your own sense of agency and control in the classroom. I have seen too many ‘pirates’ climb the ladder only to look down and wonder why everyone else does not follow. Not sure, but thanks for sharing Donelle.

    • dbatty1 says:

      Hi Aaron, you raise a really interesting point about the agency of other teachers. This was certainly something that I found myself questioning while reading sections of the book.

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