John’s 12 Rules

John BoothWhen my mentor and great friend passed away in 2012 I reflected on our time together, some 35 years, and the things he taught me.  John met me on the first day I started to teach and made sure I was alright.  His guidance helped me become the teacher I am. The result of this reflection was a realisation that John had 12 rules by which he taught and I think lived his life by. I use these often and thought sharing them may be a good thing to do. So here they are.

1)           Set your stall out and be ready before you make a start.

2)            If you are going to pick something up, know where you are going to put it down.

3)            There is no point in struggling, remember the Egyptians! (nothing to do about slavery, all to do about thinking and planning before taking action)

4)            A blunt tool is dangerous.

5)            Always ask questions to elicit the least number of responses.

6)            Always work out what you want to know before you ask the question.

7)            Just because it’s broken does not mean it cannot be mended.

8)            Using or having something is not the same as owning it; you are just looking after it.

9)            A lesson has a beginning, middle and an end when you are leading it, at other times let the students get on with it.

10)          When you have got it organised somebody else will use it.

11)          Get it home first and then decide what you are going to do with it.

12)          Always have a project on the go.

I think you will find that careful reflection will help you see the meaning and power behind many of these rules. A sort of metaphysical toolbox for life and definitely for teaching!


There was a 13th rule too. One I was sure John did not know about but was used by others who knew John.

13)  If you do not know what to do with something, give it to John.

The more I visit these rules I have begun to believe John knew of rule 13. Perhaps it should be written as:

13) Always be approachable, turn nobody away and help if you can.

Now that is a good rule!

If you want a full explanation of these rules and how they apply to teaching then look out for my book – there is a whole chapter on John’s 12 rules.

Here is a link to  a review by UKEdchat


About AcEd

"4c3d" (AcEd) is the abbreviation for Advocating Creativity in education, a company I set up to challenge how we think about and deliver education. The blog champions my concept of Learning intelligence, how we manage our learning environment to meet our learning needs as well as detailing those needs: Power Belonging, Choice and Fun - PBCF. Kevin Hewitson 2019

2 responses to “John’s 12 Rules”

  1. MW says :

    Clever…very clever and so practical


  2. jillberry102 says :

    Interesting to read, Kevin – thanks for sharing.


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