The nature of primary school teaching is difficult to appreciate for those who have no experience of it, except as a pupil. From a child’s view, it seems straightforward enough. In reality, the task of the teacher is a complex and demanding one, requiring a wide range of skills and personal qualities, as well as extensive knowledge. The four volumes of these source books have been compiled to help in the professional development of primary school teachers, but the nature of the help they can give needs to be appreciated by potential readers.
In the report, Postgraduate Certificate in Education Courses for Teachers in Primary and Middle Schools: A Further Consultative Report (1982), the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers spelt out five elements in the professional ‘equipment’ of teachers of younger children: (1) techniques; (2) curricular knowledge; (3) professional knowledge; (4) personal and interpersonal skills or qualities; and (5) constructive revaluation. The compilers of these source books acknowledge the importance of all five elements but do not believe that any book can do justice to all of them. The source books focus on two: they contribute both to primary teachers’ professional knowledge and to the development of their ability to re-evaluate their own experience and the enterprise of primary education itself. They do this by introducing readers to extracts from ‘official’ publications and from academic material which put primary education in context and which introduce readers to many of the important theoretical, yet professional, issues that need to be considered by practitioners. Most of the extracts focus directly on primary education or on primary-aged children; this was a major criterion used in selecting material for inclusion in the source books. The four volumes are not intended to provide a complete course of study; they need to be supplemented, where possible, by students’ general reading in educational and professional studies: psychology, sociology, history, philosophy, curriculum studies and management studies. However, though not intended as a substitute for students’ reading of a wide range of original