Jan Georgeson, Research Fellow, Plymouth Institute of Education, UK
Child observation has a long history and this new edition of Mary Fawcett's popular title intriguingly reflects changing concerns for work with children over the past 20 years when the book first appeared. The embedded historicity in the most recent edition strengthens the book's main message, that we should attend carefully both the context of observation and to what we ourselves bring to that context through our own experiences. The book is aimed at a broad range of students who need to develop skills in using observation as they prepare for their particular place in the children's workforce, starting with a simple introduction to major theorists in the field of childhood studies, the different reasons to observe - to learn, to assess, to research, to safeguard and to be professionally alert - and different methods of observation from unstructured diaries to more structured approaches. The practicalities of observation are given due prominence alongside the importance of ethical considerations. Students will certainly value the chapter on what to do with the information they have gathered, how to manage the sometimes controversial links between observation and assessment and the importance of clarifying terminology when sharing observations in interprofessional contexts.