Showing posts from May, 2012

You want me to get that? Why we don't need Sunscreen and Body Image on the curriculum.

Readers of a certain demographic will recall Benson, the sardonic, rebellious butler played by Robert Guillaume in the daytime soap-satire ‘Soap’ and then in his own spin-off ‘Benson’. The concept of having a black butler for a wealthy WASP family might provoke discomfort in denizens of the 21st century, but we’ll glide over the vulgarities of our forebears. His shtick was that he, servant to a family of hypocrites, adulterers and liars, was dismissive of them all.  
He expressed this perfectly with his catch-phrase; whenever a phone or a door bell would ring, everyone on the sofa would look at the eponymous underdog expectantly, and he would pause dramatically, look around, touch his chest with his finger, and say, ‘You want ME to get that?’ Cue laughter tape. Every now and then I know how he feels. Because every now and then, some working party, or steering group, or commission, or sub-committee investigating some social ill or community horror concludes with a finding as inevitable a…

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters: Mock outrage causes outrage

I am outraged. I'm fuming. How can people be so insensitive? They should be ashamed of themselves.

In fact, I'm so outraged, I think I might be able to wring a decent article out of it. The source of today's horror is the news, reported in the Telegraph, and no doubt coming soon to a media outlet near you, is the news that in the recent AQA Religious Studies exam, they had the temerity to ask this question:

'Why are some people prejudiced against Jews?'

The Jewish Chronicle led with this; Michael Gove jumped in with his size 12s. Lou Mensch hit Twitter like it was being rationed by Francis Maude.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, branded the move “insensitive”. He told The Jewish Chronicle: “To suggest that anti-Semitism can ever be explained, rather than condemned, is insensitive and, frankly, bizarre. AQA needs to explain how and why this question was included in an exam paper.” From this link

I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure I was readi…

'Stop doing what we told you to do,' says Ofsted: Leaked Maths paper causes outrage.

NEWS: Recent comments by Ofsted that the maths exam is 'too easy' has been greeted with cries of 'but that's what you f*cking asked us to do' by most major stakeholders in England and Wales. Additionally, the DfE rottweiler has accused schools of teaching to the exam and gaming the A*-C figures by entering candidates too early. Tired, confused teachers have responded with various degrees of, 'But....we only get paid if the results constantly increase like an enormous soufflé predicated on infinite expansion. Help, we don't understand what you want.'

'Yes, said one maths teacher. Tell us what you want. We'll do it. Please don't hurt us. Take my last testicle. I don't need it any more.'

The Daily Guru has received an advance copy of this year's GCSE exam, criticised by many as being too obsessed with relevance and engagement with the children's context than assessing functional maths skills. See for yourself:


Teacher Memes- some of my current favourites

The Internet is FULL of stuff. Perhaps you noticed. You've probably noticed all that meme malarkey clogging up the interband. And predictably, because students have even more time on their hands than education bloggers, they tend to come up with variations on a meme. Because their worlds often revolve around school, it’s no surprise that there is so much of this stuff out there. And some of it's even funny. Here are some of my current favourite teacher memes:

Teacher Voice trumps the Techno-zealots


Further to yesterday's blog, I received a comment from Joe Nutt, who used to be a principal consultant with the CfBT, adding to the points I raised. He's written an extremely readable report (click here), and an even more readable power point presentation (yes, that DOES sound like an oxymoron) which makes many of the points I did, but with greater precision, research, and fewer references to viscera and swearing (if you LIKE that sort of  thing...).

Joe's got form; English teacher for 19 years, state and private; then consultancy work with a number of bodies; Teach First, helped implement the national intranet for Scotland, etc, etc.He is, in many ways, righteous in matters IT and teaching, which makes him a rare beast.

His report says, among other things, that:

The implementation of IT has been driven by suppliers, techno-zealots, and the surprisingly digitally illiterate.That the push for digital literacy is simply a push for conventional lite…

Soylent Green is Teachers: why we need to defend education from the predators of profit

I am not, nor have I ever been, a communist. I believe in America. I begrudgingly concede  Milton Friedman's point that capitalism (with all its faults) is the least bad system we've devised yet. It remains riddled with anti-life equations; Marx's analysis of its weaknesses was more or less correct, although the alternative he painted remains a sketch.

Some of its central structural flaws: its dependence on desire as the driving force of delivery; the utilitarian obsession with valuing what it can measure, until all else is not only ignored, but becomes forgotten, as if it had never existed. And in its Darwinian quest for advantage, it favours those just vicious enough to maintain a status quo of cooperativeness. It seeks short term goals, it pits all against all, and without regulation, it would return us to an age of robber-barons, and perhaps it soon will.

That's the good news. But to be fair on Adam Smith, it delivers on many levels: as a conduit between perceived …

We're all doomed! Don't worry about a talent drain, Christine- there's no where to go.

Second blog of the weekend because I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS. Why? Because every time I pick up a paper I read things about teaching and teachers that bears no resemblance to the reality of education. Usually it's from someone who only steps foot in a school to give a speech, who's never actually taught a child, and doesn't know what it's actually like to be a teacher.

And why should they? No one actually asks us. It's why some of us end up fomenting our own Arab Springs via blogs and Tweeting with one hand as the other marks ('Only one t in innit, Caspar.') which is about as desperate as it gets. It's King Canut turning back the tide as he pisses into the wind, wishes on a star AND tries to put the cat out as he lights a fire. It's a Kessel run in less than 11 parsecs; it's the hill of Sisyphus; it's the definition of optimism.

Today's catalyst was this article in the Guardian 'Schools face talent drain as level of mor…

Burn the Witch: why everyone hates Michael Wilshaw

You know how some people precede their observations on another with the comment, 'I don't agree with everything they say, but...'? This makes me tear what hair Fate has left me from my brow, because the chance of you actually agreeing with everything someone says must be something approaching zero probability, unless you follow J-Bieb on Twitter or find yourself chained to a radiator in Somalia. I take it as read that I won't agree with everyone in this vibrant tapestry of dissent and accord we call opinion. Perhaps you agree? Oh.

So it skewers my soul to see people falling over themselves to align themselves to either pole of an argument, as if discussion were digital rather than analogue. We see this in aesthetics ('Jackson was a god/ devil) such as the letter column of NME used to host, and obviously in politics. Fundamentalism in any corner of the libertarian/ authoritarian/ free market/ planned economy box is often the easiest to dispute, because universal cl…

Avengers Assembly! Lesson ideas from earth's mightiest heroes

Now if you've seen the latest Avengers film I suspect you didn't see the immediate link between it and your teaching. NOT TO WORRY TRUE BELIEVER I HAVE YOUR BACK ON THIS ONE. That's EXACTLY what I was doing, in between hopping in my chair in childish pleasure and shadow-boxing Chitauri raiders escaping from the poorly rendered post-production 3-D. Comics haven't grown UP; they've grown OUT, from their pulpy three-coloured dying planet, rocketing to megaplexes and multiscreen car parks. It's a format that is finally ready for rendering these Olympian cartoon ideals. Previous efforts, notable exceptions aside, suffered from their attempts to rationalise and realise concepts and characters that were, essentially outlandish and impossible. Adam West pulled off Batman because he went for pop-lite rather than Dark Knight. Reeves and Donner's Superman was an elegant and affectionate love letter to noble intentions and the dignity of goodness.

But now, it seems, w…