Beck and Robin Feiner, My Favourite Teachers, HarperCollins Publisher, July 2021, 32 pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780733341625
A good teacher can make a world of difference, reluctant students become engaged learners, dull subjects become entertaining, and every class member feels valued and respected. My Favourite Teacher seeks to celebrate teachers. In a climate where teachers are often unfairly blamed for the shortcomings of the education system, this book offers an antidote. The reader is encouraged to think about who their favourite teachers are, both formal and informal.
Within the book each double-page spread features a child’s favourite school teacher and their favourite non-school teacher, such as a grandparent, footy coach, community elder etc. A rich variety of examples are provided, and inclusive representation seems to be the aim of the game. From Mr Shapiro who is shown in a wheelchair sharing his love of geography to Freddie the community elder who teaches how to cook with native ingredients, a diverse range of cultures, abilities and interests are represented. Both male and female adults are shown as formal and informal teachers.
Brightly coloured, bold illustrations grab the readers’ attention. Plenty of quirky details are included in the illustrations to maintain interest throughout.
I hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend the title because I know that just as there are good, excellent, and amazing teachers there are also ordinary teachers (both formal and informal). For students who struggle with school life, or who are not gifted with inspirational informal adult role models, this book may not be well received.
Overall though, I enjoyed reading this title and reflecting on my time in the education system, trying to remember the names of long forgotten teachers. This title would appeal to younger primary students and would make a useful addition to school libraries.
Reviewed by Anne Varnes