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Showing posts from June, 2011

Day One at The Sunday Times Festival of Education: Glastonbury for Swots*

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*copyright A A Gill

When Hercules died, Zeus granted him immortality by transforming him into a constellation. I felt similarly blessed this weekend as I attended the Mount Olympus that is the Wellington College Festival of Education, the old-money Zion of matters secondary-academic. In its second year, I was frankly delighted to find myself invited to pontificate. Teacher shall speak unto teacher, in agreeable, well-appointed rooms.

I met Old Andrew; I met Birbalsingh, and A A Gill, and Phil Beadle, and a dozen other worthies. I saw David Starkey’s stately undercarriage glower at me with carless abandon; I sat with Peter York as he ignored me and had a scone. I sat on the commode of Anthony Seldon, and held a door open for Andy Burnham.
Reader, I was bricking it.
I can happily walk in front of a thousand kids and talk about Karl Marx or Transubstantiation for an hour without notes. I adore public speaking, even more than your average European tyrant. But as every teacher knows, the t…

Sunday Times Festival of Education: 'Glastonbury for swots'.

Just finished 2 days at the Sunday Times Educational Festival. I feel pedagogically clobbered. However, I now have enough celebrity edublog material to last a month. Bear with me as I enter my decompression bathysphere and learn to breathe East End economy air. It was like Valhalla for educational navel-gazers; 'Swot's' Glastonbury' as A A Gill called it. What with that and the Dream School Educational Select committee, I'm in danger of needing a clone to meet my self imposed requirement to exhaustively record and unpack every edu-meme of trivia I can. I shall not let you down. Watch this space.

Social mobility, the Olympic Games, and justice in schools

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Fair's fair- beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.

Let's say I bring a cake to the party- I'm like that- and we decide to split it between all ten of us (obviously it's not much of a party, unless Dita Von Teese, Tom Jones and Gandhi are involved). What would be a fair way of dividing it up? Ignore, for the minute, the cack-handed crumb-bath that would normally ensue when a civilian attempts to cut a cake into anything other than four pieces (and even that's a struggle for some- in my previous career running restaurants, I saw innumerable birthday confections sliced up lengthways. I fuss you not).

The obvious answer is cutting it into ten equal pieces- that's fair, right? Everyone gets the same amount, and justice is served, like gazpacho, cold.

But hang about- what if one of the party members (let's say...A C Grayling has dropped in) hates cake. Can't stand the stuff. Would it be fair to give him something he doesn't want? Furthermore, what i…

The Bizarro World of Education: Jamie's Dream School is BACK!

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'This is the stewardess speaking: does anyone know how to fly a plane?'

Oh boy, oh boy, oh BOY, am I happy- and for all the wrong reasons. I was going to write about so many things today, but now, now there's only one game in town, and it is righteous: the news that Jamie's Dream School, my all time favourite piece of pedagogic TV, is back in the news- and for all the wrong reasons. It's like Christmas for edusphere bloggers like myself, and this time they've served up a turkey so large you could saddle it and ride it through Admiralty Arch.


The House of Commons Education Select Committee 'regularly meets with representatives from across the education sector, including students, parents, teachers, social workers, inspectors and academics', or so its website says. And who, in its infinite wisdom has it decided to consult on the realities of mainstream education, and the challenges facing pupils, teachers and educators? Why, the Dons and Alumni of TV…

Deliver Us- the miracles that education reform needs.

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Education is a bit like Doctor Who right now. We've had Tom Baker, and the unmentionable McCoy, and now it's regenerating into a new character, and everyone's hugging each other with excitement about which handsome English character actor will be piloting the blue box. As a result, everyone is (once again) discussing which magic bullet education needs now. If you're stupid, or worse, if you're stupid and you believe grim fairy tales like Shift Happens, or most anything by Ken Robinson, you'd be forgiven (almost) for thinking that schools need to be torn apart and rebuilt for the 23rd century, or something, so that we don't get left behind by Tonga, or the Nordic miracle. 

Or perhaps you believe (because you'd believe anything) that children no longer need to be taught content in an age of Google, and that skills, yes skills I say, are the way to transform our lumpen generation into perfected ubermenschen. Maybe you also believe that fairies drop crumbs o…