Showing posts from August, 2011

TES Resources: free stuff for teachers. Actually free.

Just thought I'd show some love to the TES Resources department, for whom I do some work every week. Without bias or benefit I can heartily recommend this part of the TES online portal: lesson plans, behaviour advice, templates, Teacher TV videos, on and on an on. And all of it completely free. It's like a vast, pulsing collective teaching wiki-mind, a colony intelligence of crowd sourced resources that is so achingly hip I'm surprised it hasn't launched a perfume range. Of course, being open source, you'll have to sift through the material to find something of the quality you require, but such is the bargain we strike with the devil of altruism. Besides, there is an enormous amount of high quality material available, so with only a little searching you should be able to get something helpful.

Every week I contribute three behavioural tips to the area, and once a month I write a feature for the Behaviour Newsletter, as well as compiling my pick of the resources ava…

The S-Bomb: Starkey didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition

Now I don't want to stand in between David Starkey and the juggernaut of disapprobation that is ploughing through his Christmas card list- I am neither Toby Young nor a moron- but the recent debate surrounding his somewhat incontinent comments regarding race, poverty and class seems to have been marred by a mighty wind of righteousness. And no matter what side the argument falls on, whenever I hear someone being torn apart by Twitter, I automatically find myself wondering if the momentum carrying the tide of opinion is washing all debate and reason with it.
What is it with media-friendly historians and race, anyway? First David Irving describes Hitler as the 'Greatest unifying force in Europe since Charlemagne', and now Starkey has fallen into the spiked pit of telly. Niall Ferguson better watch his back, that's all I'm saying. You never hear Tristam Hunt talking like this.
Teaching Philosophy, I'm used to provoking and maintaining discussions that are designed t…

Architects of Citizenship GCSE 'baffled' by riots

The panjandrums of curriculum design were distraught last night, as it finally sunk in that an enormous number of teenagers had decided to riot- despite having been taught Citizenship, either explicitly through a discrete GCSE, or some other modular or integrated model.

'This defies explanation,' said one unhappy DfE architect, who did not want to be named. 'It specifically says in the GCSE not to riot. We taught them all about voting, and local government, and different types of laws and stuff. How on earth they could have misinterpreted this to mean that they should get their best Eveready hoodies on and pitch dustbins through the nearest TK Maxx window, I just can't imagine. The world's gone mad.'

Asked whether it was possible that in-school initiatives to explicitly teach children to be better citizens were doomed to failure, our source became aggressive. 'Of course not! Look at SEAL; see how successful that was, eh? Now children are in touch with their…

I love London: raging against the anti-lifers

I'm going to start with a story about Crocodile Dundee.

That was the name of the eponymous Antipodean film hero back in the eighties. Dundee, an outback Indiana Jones has just arrived in Manhattan from the middle of the Australian desert. Looking down at the teeming masses streaming up and down 5th Avenue, his eyes nearly pop out of their sockets.

'Strweth,' he says to Linda Kowlaski, 'How many people live here?'
'Around nine million people in the daytime,' says his soon-to-be real-life bride. Dundee rubs his chin.
'Blimey. They must all really get along with each other.'

The joke (it's there, I assure you) leans on chronological context: at that time NY was still trying to shake off its reputation for violence and pushiness, so the punchline emphasised Dundee's apparent naivety. (Incidentally, that was the funniest moment in the entire franchise, apart from the bit where he pulls a knife.)

But I think our rural emigrant hero spoke more wise…

The London Riots. The Horror

Watching the news was like walking into a wall. At first it seemed surreal; abroad, the home news always seems like a foreign country. Today, it feels like a bad dream.

I am paralysed with anger, and weep with pity at the horror of it all. To watch the scenes of cold-blooded, unleashed egotism is more than I can bear. This is MY city; this is my home.

This is the fragile, futile awful truth; civilisation, with all its concomitant luxuries and prizes, is made of glass; a stone's-throw away from rubble and ruin. All it takes is for someone to throw a stone, and for no one to say no. Last night, and the last few nights, many, many stones were thrown, and bricks, and home made bombs, and battering rams, and fists.

The part that devastates me as a teacher is that they are, seemingly, children; teenagers; gangs. These aren't protestors; these aren't activists; these are bored, opportunistic children. Don't say they're disaffected; don't say they're economically d…