The books

The Teaching Delusion trilogy is written by Bruce Robertson and published by John Catt Educational.

Find out more about each book below.

The Teaching Delusion: Why Teaching In Our Schools Isn’t Good Enough (And How We Can Make It Better)

About the book

The Teaching Delusion by senior education consultant Bruce Robertson offers a bold, refreshing and sometimes provocative stance on teaching and leadership. Informed by the latest educational research and drawing on two decades of professional experience, Robertson examines how teaching in schools can be transformed from good to great. 

The new title from John Catt Educational poses challenging yet important questions to its readers. Schools are filled with great teachers, but is great teaching taking place in every classroom? How can educators expect students to cultivate a lifelong passion for learning if they themselves are lacking this? 

Robertson’s solution is twofold. To promote excellent teaching, there must be a shared understanding of what high-quality teaching really is what does it look like, and how can it be fostered? Secondly, there must be a school-wide desire to engage in professional learning. With his school having won the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Excellence in Professional Learning Award in 2019, Robertson uses his personal track-record of success to explore how these barriers can be addressed to lead to a transformation in teaching practice. 

Written by a teacher and school leader for teachers and school leaders, The Teaching Delusion aims to support teaching communities to develop and improve their practice, in order to ensure that all students receive the same level of excellent education. Aligning himself firmly on the side of teachers and keen to avoid teacher bashing, Robertson sensitively engages in an often controversial discussion about how to improve the quality of teaching, aiming to boost knowledge, awareness and ultimately self-esteem in both educators and learners. 

The Teaching Delusion combines practicality with pedagogy in a thoughtful, unique approach making it a vital resource for teachers and leaders at all levels who are looking to better their practice.

Praise for ‘The Teaching Delusion’

This book is indispensable for teachers and school leaders alike. It makes a passionate case for putting learning and teaching at the heart of everything that happens in a school and provides a clear and instantly practical framework for doing this. It is one of the best summaries of key educational research I have read and it has challenged me to think about the most important question in education: what makes great teaching? If you only read one educational book this year, make it this one.

Kelly Fairbairn, Deputy Headteacher and former Head of English and Literacy, Scottish Borders

Reading ‘The Teaching Delusion’ has had an immediate, positive impact on my teaching. The practical skills I have picked up as a class teacher are already making a difference. I am seeing a marked increase in my students’ confidence, focus, and knowledge in a very short time.

Derek Huffman, English Teacher, Berwickshire High School, Scottish Borders

I have found this book an incredibly interesting and thought provoking look at what is central to both the purpose and practice of the teaching process, and what factors can help to improve it. It challenges teachers to think in its easily readable, personal and conversational style. By bringing together and summarising key ideas from the work of contemporary educational thinkers, the book challenges the reader to explore their own thinking about what makes great teaching or, indeed, poor teaching. An enjoyable, well researched, thought provoking read.

Iain Hughes, Quality Improvement Manager for the South East Improvement Collaborative; former Headteacher, Waid Academy

Challenging yet supportive, this book takes a clear, comprehensive and engaging look at the key question: how good, actually, is our teaching? Read it and become a better teacher.

David Swinney, Scottish Qualifications Authority

This book helps to dispel many of the myths espoused by the fashionistas of contemporary pedagogy. It is a refreshingly candid look at much of our current and unfortunately misguided classroom and school practices; however not all is lost as Bruce compels us to imagine what real schools might look like and how they might feel if we were to genuinely adopt a critical, professional engagement with pedagogical practices informed by the latest educational research. Furthermore, Bruce extends his challenge beyond the classroom and questions whether senior leaders base strategic improvement on making the core business of learning and teaching truly excellent. It is a polemic; it is an appeal to exploit research based pedagogy and appreciate excellent teaching as a science and an art. I am positive teaching professionals will breathe a sigh of relief on reading this.

Scott Steele, Headteacher, Lochaber High School, Fort William

This book is both challenging and thought-provoking and a must read for classroom practitioners who want to improve their practice. Bruce is a reflective practitioner who has the rare ability of being able to translate educational theory into classroom practice. This book is an excellent resource for educationalists to use in order to provide stimulating professional learning focused on classroom practice.

Anne-Theresa Lawrie, Feuerstein International Trainer

Available at:

The Teaching Delusion 2: Teaching Strikes Back

About the book

Whisper it quietly: a lot of time is being wasted in a lot of schools. Actually, why are we whispering? What we should really be doing is calling this out – loudly! The job of schools is too important for us to be keeping quiet. Schools are in the ‘transforming lives’ business. There is no time to waste!

In The Teaching Delusion: Why Teaching In Our Schools Isn’t Good Enough (And How We Can Make It Better), Bruce Robertson explored ‘delusions’ that are holding our schools back. In this sequel, The Teaching Delusion 2: Teaching Strikes Back, he digs deeper into three areas: curriculum, pedagogy and leadership. In doing so, he tackles the issue of time-wasting head-on. By calling out specific delusions in each area, Robertson suggests strategies for dismantling these and offers a clear roadmap forward.

Backed by a depth of research and a breadth of experience, The Teaching Delusion 2: Teaching Strikes Back will give teachers and school leaders the supportive shake-up they need, helping them to abandon practices that aren’t making the difference they should be, and to focus on the things that will really make the biggest difference to students in our schools.

Praise for ‘The Teaching Delusion 2’

This excellent book nails the myth of skills being something separate from pupils knowing things. The two are like conjoined twins: it is through exposure to, engagement with and deep reflection on the substance of subjects that skills are developed. They are mutually interdependent: pupils deserve a properly considered, coherent body of knowledge through which they will develop literacy, critical thinking, analysis and other important skills. This is not just a matter of common sense, it is also a matter of equity and social justice: gaps in achievement will widen between those who have been provided with rich, interesting knowledge and those who have not. Robertson offers a systematic way of considering what might be taught: from the macro, via the meso, to the micro. The ‘delusions’ are critiqued across a school’s various endeavours: from leadership to assessment to departmental meetings. It is thought provoking and challenging and will give many schools pause for thought. A very helpful book for any jurisdiction.

Mary Myatt, education writer and curator of Myatt & Co

We need more books like this, and they need to be more widely read – sensible, useful, practical and with the potential to transform your understanding of curriculum. This is one of those subjects you wish you’d known more about as a new teacher. Now, at last, you can. Robertson writes with the clarity and precision of an experienced teacher.

Tom Bennett, founder of researchED, and behaviour advisor to the Department of Education

In his follow up to The Teaching Delusion Robertson once again sets out a bold challenge to teachers and educational leaders to be better than they are and to focus on what really makes a difference. His measured and confident style contribute to an argument that strengthens as his secure, solidly research-based position develops. While it will undoubtedly make some teachers and educational leaders uncomfortable at times, few could argue with this book’s conclusions on the importance of teachers and focus on great teaching in schools. The measured logic and skilful reference to very relatable classroom examples at times belies the strength of emotion one can sense bubbling under the surface, but this too adds to the power of the argument; even when we want to scream out in agreement, the cool reason of his writing serves to remind us that this exultation of the importance of a focus on pedagogy and teacher morale is best delivered the way he does it. Robertson manages to stir the passion for creating brilliant classrooms without ever having to resort to cheap rhetorical tricks or outrage. Leaders in education take note: this book could and should start a revolution.

Campbell Wilson, Headteacher of Peebles High School and Vice President of School Leaders Scotland

It’s an oversimplification to say that The Teaching Delusion 2 brings the most important pedagogical principles into focus. Too often, as teachers, we do things because we are told to without asking ‘Why?’, and this book goes a long way to helping us answer that question. It has provided me with a renewed sense of purpose and has fired me up for bringing this understanding into the classroom.

Derek Huffman, Principal Teacher of Pedagogy, Berwickshire High School

Bruce’s second book is, like his first, grounded in practical, useful and accessible messages for teachers. If you are part of, or care about what happens in classrooms, this is a must-read. It will challenge what you have believed – or have been instructed to believe – and will shed light on some of the many paradoxes which clutter and confuse effective learning and teaching. What I particularly like is the skilful navigation through the candyfloss of pedagogical thinking backed by research from a wide range of educational sources to support his arguments. Although you may not agree with every assertion made in the book, there is no doubt that every teacher (and school leader) would be wiser and more effective having read and thought about the ideas put forward. This book will challenge and provoke, inspire and educate, and most importantly help find a path through the contradictions facing teachers every day.

Wendy Sutherland, former Headteacher, St David’s High School, Midlothian

This is what we have needed in education for a long time – a clear-eyed and honest look at what works and what doesn’t. Bruce has combined educational research with his own experience in this excellent book which challenges us to be better at what we do. The book is clear in its respect and admiration for teachers while also showing that we all have the capacity to improve.

Kelly Fairbairn, Deputy Headteacher, Eyemouth High School

Teaching Strikes Back is the perfect follow-up to The Teaching Delusion where Robertson continues to intelligently challenge the pedagogical delusions that hold great teaching back. Through well-informed discussions, Teaching Strikes Back will challenge your long-held beliefs and make you want to strive to be a better teacher and school leader, so that our students can receive the highest quality instruction.

Darren Leslie, Principal Teacher of Teaching & Learning, Bell Baxter High School

There’s currently a lot of talk about post-Covid catch-up for pupils – perhaps by adding an hour to the school day. This is nonsense. Who on earth thinks it’s a good idea to help exhausted school pupils and an exhausted staff cohort by giving them extra work, assessments and marking? Surely what’s needed is to give pupils the best quality learning experience in the time that they already have. Surely what’s needed is to help teachers do what they do best even better. This is where Robertson hits the nail on the head. Knowledge is as important as skills. Recall and retrieval practices trump leaving pupils behind with gaps in their knowledge. It’s great teaching which will close the ‘Covid gap’ and it’s staff remotivated by the joy of well-directed professional learning which will strike back against the pandemic deficit. Never has such a well-written and inspirational book about curriculum, pedagogy and leadership been more needed by schools, teachers and – most of all – by pupils. If you think this book isn’t essential right now – you are deluded!

Ian Yule, former Principal Teacher of English, and Principal Teacher of Support for Learning

Just when you thought The Teaching Delusion pulls all things teaching and learning out of the bag, The Teaching Delusion 2 delivers even more punchy and important messages on teaching, curriculum, inclusion and leadership. Teachers: how often do you waste time on a Friday afternoon trying to string together a week of lessons for the following week? If, like me, far too long, then this is the book for you! Robertson brings together key messages from research, simplifies them, and provides practical solutions to try in the classroom. Leaders: do you find yourself frustrated by the failure of new initiatives to impact in the classroom or wondering if your improvement journey is really making a difference? If so, Robertson presents evidence-informed solutions to develop culture and bring focus to improvement planning. This is a truly excellent and refreshing book. No educational stone is left unturned. The Teaching Delusion 2 is essential reading for leaders and teachers alike.

Jamie Orr, Teacher, Law Primary School, North Berwick

Available at:

The Teaching Delusion 3: Power Up Your Pedagogy

About the book

Hands up if you’ve ever been given lesson observation feedback that you didn’t understand, didn’t agree with, or just thought was plain rubbish. If your hand is in the air, you’re in good company! When it comes to teachers receiving high-quality feedback that helps them improve their teaching, we have a serious issue in our schools.

Teachers want to improve their teaching. They embrace any opportunity to learn. They want other professionals to watch them teach and to get into conversations about developing their practice. What they don’t want is to be criticised, patronised, sent down blind alleys, or left utterly confused. Those who’ve been giving feedback telling teachers to ‘differentiate more’, ‘talk less’, or ‘let students lead their own learning’ have a lot to answer for.

The Teaching Delusion 3: Power Up Your Pedagogy has been written to address the issue of teachers receiving poor feedback in our schools. As a self-improvement and coaching resource, it is essential reading for all teachers and school leaders. Through a detailed exploration of 12 key elements of pedagogy, author Bruce Robertson sets out a clear, researched-informed guide to improving pedagogy in every classroom, across every school. By highlighting key features of effective practice and a broad range of techniques teachers can focus on developing, this practical guidebook will be valued by professionals in all sectors, regardless of experience. 

The Teaching Delusion 3: Power Up Your Pedagogy completes The Teaching Delusion trilogy with a bang!

Praise for ‘The Teaching Delusion 3’

When teachers gather together to reflect on their practice or when individual teachers are self-reflecting or working with a coach, it’s so important to have a shared understanding of the problems and solutions under discussion; there needs to be a common framework of some kind. In Power Up Your Pedagogy, Bruce Robertson has provided teachers with exactly the kind of framework they need. The 12 elements are a superb way of describing the teaching practices we all need to engage with, each supported by an excellent range of Trusted Techniques that are described with crisp clarity; some are reassuringly familiar while others are fresh and innovative. The Power-up Prompts add an excellent layer to the whole process, helping teachers to reflect on their practice as they seek to improve in each area. The range of ideas and references packed into this concise, punchy book is impressive and I can see it doing a superb job of supporting teachers at every career stage.

Tom Sherrington, author of The Learning Rainforest and Teaching WalkThrus

We now have a lot of evidence about how the brain learns but we are less secure about how to use that evidence in the classroom. To my mind, this book is one of the best practical guides a teacher or school leader can have in how to firstly understand and then apply evidence in the classroom.

Dr Carl Hendrick, co-author of How Learning Happens

I had the privilege of reading The Teaching Delusion 3: Power Up Your Pedagogy in the week before returning to school after the summer holidays. As I read, my dusty teacher brain was quickly and forcefully awakened. The joy, knowledge and passion that transmits from every page of this book is impossible not to share. Bruce breaks down a range of complex teaching

ideas into simple and easily actionable steps that teachers at every stage of their career would benefit from reflecting on. It is all achieved with huge empathy and humour – Bruce even manages to get the lyrics from the New Radicals into his section on modelling standards (‘you get what you give’)! It is the most excited I have felt in returning to the classroom for years: armed with numerous ‘Power-up Prompts’ and ‘Trusted Techniques’, the young people in my classroom won’t know what has hit them. I urge teachers to give this brilliant celebration of our complex craft the time and attention it deserves.

Jamie Thom, English Teacher and author of Slow Teaching

Have you ever been given lesson observation feedback that left you more despondent and frustrated than motivated and energised?’ So begins Bruce Robertson’s book, The Teaching Delusion 3, and the nodding along begins. Yes, yes, we have, and we certainly don’t want more of the same. Robertson’s main premise here is, by understanding more about how effective teaching works, mentors, coaches, and leaders can support teachers to improve their practice by giving specific, focused feedback which can have a significant impact on the learning that takes place. Part 1 neatly explores some of the key principles of the science of learning, looking at cognitive load, retrieval practice and schema theory. This is condensed and clear and provides a framework for the next part, which examines how these ideas relate directly to the classroom, with specific examples around areas such as making use of learning intentions and questioning. Each chapter includes prompts to ‘power up’ your pedagogy and the book provides a breadth of topics covering everything a teacher would need to develop their practice. This book will be invaluable to those who are coaching, particularly building on the Early Careers Framework and Initial Teacher Training. However, I think it will also be found valuable by anyone wanting to reflect on their practice and begin to delve into research to support them to do so.

Zoe Enser, English Adviser for The Education People, specialist adviser for The Teacher Development Trust, and ex English Teacher, Head of Department and Senior Leader

In The Teaching Delusion 3, Robertson lays the foundations for addressing the issues that arise around poor feedback within the teaching profession. Robertson takes you on a learning journey that is underpinned by research and his own experience to bring together the core principles of effective pedagogy. The Learning Lessons at the beginning underpin how we learn and what follows is a comprehensive toolkit of strategies that every teacher can consider and implement in their own classroom. This is a book that truly will power up your pedagogy!

Michael Chiles, Associate Assistant Principal and Author of CRAFT and The Feedback Pendulum

Being a huge fan of The Teaching Delusion, I was slightly cynical about whether the follow-up, The Teaching Delusion 3: Power Up Your Pedagogy, would live up to its predecessor. In actual fact, Bruce has somehow written something even more practical and relevant for the classroom. I love how well it links to the pedagogical seeds planted in his first book, although it can be read as a stand-alone. Another positive is the ease with which it can be used by teachers as a tool for improvement, both individually and collaboratively as a coaching resource. Bruce’s wealth of experience and expertise is reflected in the clearly structured and thought- provoking ‘Power-up Prompts’, which I could see being excellent discussion points during collegiate conversations. The ‘Trusted Techniques’ are so useful, showcasing a range of best bets for excellent learning and teaching in the classroom. This is the book I wish I’d had to help me grow as a new teacher, but one which I will return to again and again as a middle leader supporting all teachers in the classroom. When time is precious for all in education, it’s important to prioritise professional reading and this would be the first book I would go to, by an experienced and trusted author, for pragmatic, impactful professional learning. A must-read for anyone with an interest in effective learning and teaching.

Fiona Leadbeater, Principal Teacher of Expressive Arts, Oban and Tiree High Schools

The Teaching Delusion 3 is a must-read for any teacher who wants to improve their practice (i.e. all teachers) and also for anyone acting as a coach/mentor to a colleague. The book begins with 10 ‘Learning Lessons’,

which summarise how learning happens, with plenty of footnotes for anyone who wants to read more. In the heart of the book, Bruce goes on to go through 12 Elements of pedagogy, and how these can be used to improve learning and teaching in the classroom. Within each Element, there are Power-up Prompts that will make you think about a specific aspect of teaching, and Trusted Techniques, which are specific practices that can be tried in the classroom to improve your practice.

Bruce has created a fantastic resource that teachers can use to identify aspects of their practice that they’d like to improve, and gives suggested techniques on how these aspects can be improved. Throughout the book there are plenty of concrete examples of how the techniques could be implemented. The book is also ideal for anyone in a coaching or mentoring relationship with a colleague, as it will help the coach/mentor to provide specific, actionable feedback focused on improving classroom practice.

As with his other books, Bruce has written a book that I wish had been written 15 years ago, as I know I would have been a better teacher, mentor and leader if I’d had this book to hand. The Trusted Techniques are mostly strategies that can be implemented very quickly with no huge impact on workload – the sort of professional learning that I like! I’ll definitely be recommending it to the student teachers that I work with.

Colin McGill, Lecturer in Education (Chemistry), Edinburgh Napier University

This book is excellent and a must-have resource for everyone in education, from senior leaders to student teachers. It is a simple and practical guide to support the reader’s desire to improve their teaching and learning. Its flexibility allows it to be used both when planning and when reflecting on lessons, either individually or together with colleagues and within faculties or whole-school settings. The simplicity is in the book’s format. A concise and well-illustrated chapter on Learning Lessons and how learning takes place allows the reader to fully appreciate the need for each of the 12 key Elements of pedagogy. The practicality of the book is demonstrated by the suggestions of how each Element can be improved using Power-up Prompts, supported by Trusted Techniques (specific practices) which can

be used to improve this aspect. The book then becomes an invaluable reference point to support professional learning, either as a self-help or coaching guide, with exemplars of how this could be used in the short- and long-term professional learning planning process.

Colin Richardson, Principal Teacher of Teaching & Learning, Eyemouth High School

As a teacher or a leader, have you ever wished for a ‘great teaching’ manual? Something that is readable, specific to the classroom and easy to implement in your practice? If you have, then look no further than The Teaching Delusion 3 – it really is the ‘great teaching’ manual you have been after!

As always, Bruce Robertson has engaged in a vast amount of research and simplified this into a powerful and easy read. The Teaching Delusion 3 considers every detail and provides a refreshing and inspiring take on what great teaching is. As you read and consider the messages of this book, it becomes truly addictive. Bruce’s messages are clear, empowering and just make sense – something we have all craved for so long.

Bruce has carefully crafted this book as a coaching companion for self or peer use. It lends itself perfectly to dip in and out of, or as the perfect text for any professional reading group. I strongly believe that for anyone who teaches or observes teaching, this is a must-read.

Jamie Orr, Teacher, Law Primary School, North Berwick

Power Up Your Pedagogy is a one-stop shop for classroom, department and school improvement. It is more than useful hints and tips – it’s based on extensive research and considerable experience. It’s from those two sources that Bruce Robertson is able to hand ‘power’ to the teacher. I might even dare to say that a teacher could find a career’s worth of advice, challenge and support in this book. I wholeheartedly recommend it to teachers in whatever teaching situation they find themselves in.

Ian Yule, former Principal Teacher of English, and Principal Teacher of Support for Learning

The Teaching Delusion 3 is an invaluable resource for teachers looking for research-based, tried-and-tested practical ideas for the classroom, bringing theory and practice together in a very useful way. Its concise way of aligning Power-up Prompts and Trusted Techniques with solid pedagogical principles is the quick-reference guide that every classroom teacher needs. Along with ‘TTD1’ and ‘TTD2’, it is the quintessential educational trilogy.

Derek Huffman, Principal Teacher of Pedagogy, Berwickshire High School

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