Review by Sal Consoli:
Edited by Richard Smith, Amol Padwad and Deborah Bullock. London: The British Council, 66pp. Online: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/teaching-low-resource-classrooms-voices-experience
This book was inspired by the recognition that in many countries around the world English is often taught in ‘low-resource’ classrooms, and therefore what mainstream research and published pedagogical materials offer is not entirely suitable for such contexts. Indeed, there are few training materials which are derived from and which reflect such ‘low-resource’ classroom realities. Thus, this book intends to make a step towards bridging this gap. The stories and accompanying reflective tasks included in this volume can be used informally and adaptively by teachers for reflection on and as part of their own practice as well as for discussion in teacher groups/associations or in-service workshops. They could also be used in formal teacher education for trainee-teachers who may work in difficult circumstances.
The key actors behind the development of the book are teachers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan who took part in a five-day Hornby Regional School in Kathmandu, Nepal on ‘Teaching in the Low-Resource Classroom’. The workshop itself was directed and facilitated by Richard Smith with Amol Padwad and Jovan Ilic. (For a sense of what went on in the school watch this short video.)
The book accompanies – and is linked to — a set of video-recorded oral presentations by teachers, with accompanying questions for reflection and discussion which focus on success in low-resource primary and secondary classrooms. In these presentations individual teachers share recent experiences which they regard as ‘successful’. There are also presentations centring upon materials and methodology in low-resource classrooms, managing low-resource classrooms and diversity in low-resource classrooms. These presentations were an opportunity for groups of teachers to share ideas for good practice which they had gathered from other teachers at the school in relation to particular issues which were important to them.
The central theme which emerges from the book and from the video-recorded presentations is that of ‘resourcefulness’ – the teacher and students themselves can be valuable human resources, and this is especially necessary when material resources are lacking. Whilst this does not mean stopping any endeavour to develop better material resources for such settings, it is worth noting that there are already crucial human resources which should not be ignored.