Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not entirely sure for whom this book is intended. I read it in hopes of improving my technique and building more enthusiasm in certain difficult/jaded students, but the book offered very little actual pointers as to how I should accomplish that. The first 70 pages were devoted to Burgess’s mnemonic device PIRATE and to his incredible talent as a teacher (I know he’s talented, because Burgess reminds me of this on every page). Part II of the book finally presented different hooks for the teacher to try, but I realized as I read it I was already utilizing a lot of them in my classroom.

The main crux of the book is Enthusiasm and Passion. While virtual synonyms, these two words are each part of the Acrostic PIRATE. According to Burgess, if a teacher is enthusiastic about the material, the majority of students will be too. He also promotes growing Rapport between student and teacher. If a student believes that a teacher cares, they will put more effort into their work.

These themes are all well and good, but how are they revolutionary? Any teacher worth his or her salt is going to be passionate about their material and building relationships with his/her students. So who is Burgess’s intended audience? What teacher out there doesn’t know that showing your student you care is a great way to build trust? What teacher out there doesn’t realize that droning incessantly in a monotone voice is not a way to engage student?

Teachers who pick up this book are doing it because they’ve already mastered these basic steps and are trying to take their teaching to a higher plane. Anyone who is lacking basic understanding of teaching is never going to pick up this book in the first place, because a person of that level of idiocy doesn’t think they need to change. Bit of a conundrum.

I guess, at the end of the day, I was happy to see I was already doing so much good in my classroom. I’m still searching for that final piece that will engage those difficult students, and this book was not it.

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