Let’s Privatise The Air

Diane Ravitch has written the foreword to a new book by Anthony Cody entitled The Educator and the Oligarch. He is a teacher who has tried to explain to Bill Gates why his ideas are wrong. Here is a link to what she wrote:

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/10/08/read-anthony-codys-new-book-the-educator-and-the-oligarch/

Is it really so radical to want educators to have a meaningful influence in the education debate?

If you’re pressed for time here is a single quote that captures the essence of what we’re talking about here:

“With his blog as his platform, Anthony Cody trained his sights on the Gates Foundation. While others feared to criticize the richest foundation in the United States, Cody regularly devoted blogs to questioning its ideas and programs. He questioned its focus on standardized testing. He questioned its belief that teachers should be judged by the test scores of their students. He questioned its support for organizations that are anti-union and anti-teacher. He questioned its decision to create new organizations of young teachers to act as a fifth column within teachers’ unions, ready to testify in legislative hearings against the interests of teachers and unions.”

Examinations: A Poor Diet

I like what the ‘Colourstrings’ organisation have to say about exams. We can all learn from the philosophy expressed here. In the current climate of exam anxiety it takes guts to look at learning in this way. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

IMG_20140910_172939

An Astonishing Diamond

{to read this post just click on the title above; there is a glitch in the text below that makes it unreadable}

There comes a point when something begins to feel a bit different, a tipping point I suppose. I’ve recently been in touch with the Slow Education website and in the emailed response W.E.Deming was mentioned, the same W.E.Deming that Maurice Holt quotes in his recent article about the sorry state of US/UK education: to try to improve process by studying outcomes he says “…is like driving by looking in the rear-view mirror.”

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Pretty Obvious

1. Why did Gove only celebrate academies and free schools? Because he was busy aping the Americans turning a public service into a private one. In 1969 the first black paper was written attacking comprehensive schooling on principle; its authors were disgusted by the post-war egalitarianism that had begun to creep into society and positively horrified by the student protests (US and UK) that were an indication of what might happen if entire populations were properly educated.

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The Local Schools Network

Below is my response to an article written by Francis Gilbert (one of the founders of the Local Schools Network) entitled ‘What is Good Teaching and How Can We Encourage It?’ The piece begins with Gilbert explaining that he’s just been on Newsnight. He goes on to say that the majority of the discussion on Newsnight was about whether performance-related-pay (PRP) will improve teaching standards. I decided to comment on PRP:

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July 10th-Trafalgar Square-Public Sector Protest

So it was off to central London today to take part in a march and rally ostensibly about pay and pensions;  my good old  placard (https://jennycollinsteacher.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/homemade-nut-strike-placard/) was spotted by three different news organisations who all interviewed me. The placard stood out because it was homemade and also because it didn’t just say ‘Gove Out’ but instead made some attempt to draw attention to the reasons behind the current attacks on teachers and schools (marketisation). Here are the three websites that carried out the interviews.

1. http://www.presstv.com/

2. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php

3. http://www.leftcom.org/en

At one point a fellow protesting teacher reacted to the line on the placard that reads ‘Marketise, Monetise: Tory, Labour: All the Same’ by asking ‘What alternative do we have?’ I suggested a cabinet that was not made up of millionaires – i.e. genuinely representative – as one example of a preferable alternative. Later on I was approached by an Argentinian couple, one of whom was a teacher, who looked at the placard and told me “We are having just the same problems in Argentina, only worse”.

I was also approached by somebody who wanted to know who Joel Klein was, a name written on my placard. It interested me that this person, the only person to ask me about the names on the placard, retired from teaching ten years ago having taught for forty years. I don’t think teachers of this generation are asking the right questions; they seem pretty naive. I don’t see the NUT as a tough union and I’m not convinced teachers in this country are up for a fight. As far as I can see this is down to a lack of knowledge about their own circumstances combined with both a sceptical attitude towards any sort of political posturing and a lame ‘I’d rather be shopping’ type apathy.

It was good to see the Firefighters out in strength on the same march. They had a good sense of solidarity to them with matching Fire Brigades Union T-shirts, partners and children in tow and even playing some music (‘Get Up, Stand Up’ by Bob Marley, not the most original of choices perhaps but appropriate enough and a welcome, cheerful sound).

I also met one of the people behind this intriguing blog: http://www.theunlessonmanifesto.blogspot.com It is similar to this blog for a number of reasons . It’s the first blog I’ve found that is.

 

 

 

The Creeps

I had been planning to write a response to an article written for Civitas* about the ‘progressive’ ideas of ‘the blob’ (teachers, schools, lecturers, universities etc). You can read an article summing up the paper (full title: Prisoners of the Blob: Why Most Education Experts are Wrong About Everything) here:

http//www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10730526/Amoeba-that-fosters-the-great-class-divide-in-schools.html

or you can read the full booklet here:

Click to access PrisonersofTheBlob.pdf

I’ve been saved the trouble of writing this article by the excellent Debra Kidd:

Better a Blob than a Knob..

* Civitas are a right-of-centre Think Tank set up in 2000; if you’ve been reading recently about how Ofsted are way too progressive and should be scrapped it’s largely because of Civitas. With Ofsted declaring various free schools and academies as ‘in need of improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ the obvious thing to do is attack Ofsted! But how to do this? Employ some foot soldiers – or creeps if you prefer – like Daisy Christodoulou (Ark Academies) and Toby Young (a free-schooler) to bash ‘progressive’ thinkers in education like John Dewey, Rousseau, Ken Robinson – I’m not making this up – and eventually the public will surely get behind the idea. Much as I dislike what Ofsted have done to teacher morale over the last twenty five years the idea of Civitas and Gove helping influence the design of a new inspectorate is appalling. Consider once more the title of Young’s booklet: Why Most Education Experts Are Wrong About Everything. Of course it’s intended as a wind-up but it does imply the answer must surely be to have people who are not educational experts running things. Why not Gove and Young?!

Question: What is Education? Answer: An emerging market!

In the following link Stefan Collini reviews two books that both look into the marketisation of higher education. It is shocking stuff:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n20/stefan-collini/sold-out

Meanwhile here are some extracts from my own talk about the marketisation of education that I delivered at the State of Education Conference on Saturday 1st March (http://stateofeducation2014.wordpress.com/).

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Email to Ed Dorrell, TES features and comment editor

A couple of months ago Ed Dorrell, the features editor at the TES, wrote an editorial about school autonomy and whether or not it is really happening. Unfortunately I can’t give you a link to the piece because you have to subscribe to the TES to see it online. I wrote to him because I felt that he hadn’t made any effort to unpick the terms or look behind the motives of those pushing for greater school ‘autonomy’.
Here’s the email (it’s not as long as the Gabriel Sahlgren one but like that email it also went unanswered):

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