How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone

The art and science of teacher explanation

By: Andy Tharby


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Products specifications
Attribute nameAttribute value
Size222 x 182mm
PublishedNovember 2018

In How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone: The art and science of teacher explanation, Andy Tharby talks teachers through a set of remarkably simple techniques that will help revolutionise the precision and clarity of their message.

Explanation is an art form, albeit a slightly mysterious one. We know a great explanation when we see or hear one, yet nevertheless we struggle to pin down the intricacies of the craft.

Just how exactly is it done?

In How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone, Andy Tharby eloquently explores the art and science of this undervalued skill and illustrates how improving the quality of explanation can improve the quality of learning. Delving into the wonder of metaphor, the brilliance of repetition and the timeless benefits of storytelling, Andy sets out an evidence-informed approach that will enable teachers to explain tricky concepts so well that their students will not only understand them perfectly, but remember them forever too.

By bringing together evidence and ideas from a wide range of sources – including cognitive science, educational research and the study of linguistics – the book examines how the most effective writers and speakers manage to transform even the most messy, complicated idea into a thing of wondrous, crystalline clarity. Then, by provoking greater thought and contemplation around language choices in the classroom, Andy spells out how the practical tools and techniques discussed can be put into practice.

Andy also puts the important role of learner autonomy in context, recognising that there is a time for teachers to talk and a time for pupils to lead their own learning – and contends that, in most cases, teachers should first lay out the premise before opening the space for interrogation. Ultimately, How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone argues that good teaching is not about talking more or less, but about talking better.

Brimming with sensible advice applicable to a range of settings and subjects, this book is suitable for teachers and educators of learners aged 7–16.

Contents include:

Chapter 1: Subject knowledge

Chapter 2: Credibility and clarity

Chapter 3: Explanation design

Chapter 4: Concepts, examples and misconceptions

Chapter 5: Metaphor and analogy

Chapter 6: Storytelling

Chapter 7: Elaboration

Picture for author Andy Tharby

Andy Tharby

Andy Tharby is a practising English teacher with over a decade's classroom experience at a secondary school in West Sussex. He is co-author of the award winning Making Every Lesson Count and the author of Making Every English Lesson Count. Andy is also interested in helping fellow teachers enhance their practice through engagement with research evidence.

Click here to read Andy Tharby’s blog.


  1. This book is one which I will signpost to my teacher trainees, and will share with staff for their CPD. Tharby provides a range of effective classroom strategies to enhance practitioner clarity and make an impact when implementing the curriculum. His work is clear, evidence informed and accessible for teachers at any level. For me, the practical guidance is the highlight and I have taken the opportunity to share this where possible with my teacher trainees. Highly recommended.

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