I went with my wife and eldest son to an educational supplies store today. My wife is an early years teacher and wanted to have a look around for a few key resources for her classroom, and my son and I were along for the ride, looking forward to the walk down Jetty Road afterwards on an unusually warm September day. Now a retailer that decides to cater for a market of teachers and schools has to think carefully about its targetted demographic. So as I wandered around the store, I also wondered what a place like this says about teaching, schools and teachers.
So, in summary, I noticed the following:
- Racks of blackline masters books catering for every possible curriculum area. A lot of pre-planned unit theme books as well.
- Two hefty books on Mathematics written by two eminent Australian experts in the field, Di Seimon and George Booker, retailing for $120 and $115 each respectively.
- An entire rack of NAPLAN style test books. I think I have seen the same product in a mainstream bookstore, in newsagencies and even in a supermarket.
- A professional development section taking up a very small corner of the shop – obviously the demand for books on pedagogy and research is not high.
- An entire wall of sticker packs, reward charts and posters.
- Maths textbooks with the “Now Aligned With The Australian Curriculum” headline on the front. I didn’t check to see if the previous editions on the shelf below had been marked down in price.
- Hands on equipment for Maths limited to one shelf while worksheet books and Maths topic books dominated one side of the room.
- The same names – Pearson, MacMillan, Oxford – kept popping up on products all around the various stands and shelves.
How would you interpret these observations? I’ll share my observations in a day or so – but I’d be keen to hear what you think.