Diving for pearls
Of all the important things taught at seats of learning both great and small, how to be a parent stands little chance of being included on the curriculum. Like parachuting, deep sea diving and mating, all the manuals, theory and research in the world cannot replace the hands-on experience of on-the-job training. Failure seems inevitable as attempting to channel positivity, hope, compassion and basic human decency without imposing anxiety, fear and an all consuming ambition is a balancing act that is almost impossible to carry off. Thus, misplaced and erroneous reflected parental glory came a knocking on the door on AS-Level results day.
We have tried our very best not to impose pressure in the pursuit of top examination grades preferring to allow young minds to chart their own course. We failed on occasions and with hindsight comments such as “what do you mean you can`t grasp the concept of filial piety in King Lear” and “for heaven`s sake, child, it`s only a quadratic equation” barked across the dinner table did not exactly help. After a while, the stock question “have you done your homework” was always replied with “yes” even though we knew the answer was always “no”. As one wag many years ago wrote on the wall of the gents at my student union; “knowledge wilts in the greenhouse of academia”. (more…)
It wasn`t exactly a JFK moment or an Elvis moment or even a John Lennon moment but the day after Bastille Day 2014 is now carved into memory.
Tuesday morning was always going to be “challenging” as a long scheduled three hour meeting starting at nine would require concentration and the certain need for some agile thinking if I had any hope of a successful outcome. It was the sort of meeting that requires you to switch off your phone. Emerging into the sunshine feeling quietly confident and more that a little smug, I resorted to a nearby hostelry to collect my thoughts over a pint of fine English ale. Finding a seat outside and sparking up a gasper, I switched the phone back on.
A stream of about a dozen text messages broke the peace and quiet of the beer garden. This was most unusual as text messages are rare and are normally confined to simple pleas from the homestead to “buy cat food” or an attempt at further extortion from the tax dodging bandits calling themselves my network provider. (more…)
Illustration by L. Leslie Brooke 1871
The notion of rote learning as espoused by Michael Gove suggests that if you memorise and recite something often enough, then dull repetition will be miraculously converted into knowledge. With sincerest apologies, I will repeat that Michael Gove should face arrest and charges of criminal damage and appear before a court of law with the power to impose a custodial sentence. This man and his apparatchiks are extremely dangerous. (more…)
With the best will in the world and summoning up all remaining reserves of compassion, empathy, forgiveness and basic humanity, it is impossible to like anything about Michael Gove.
Any redeeming qualities this Secretary of State for Education might once have manifested now languish in the ruins of his credibility, venal dishonesty, incompetence and abject failure. The latest shambles brought about by the right dishonourable member for Surrey Heath revolves around an alleged plot to infiltrate Birmingham schools with warped ideology and barking mad extremist dogma. (more…)
The unpleasant downside of the usual knockabout fun provided by local and European elections is the sorry spectacle of witnessing dysfunctional dregs of society emerging from the cracks in the pavement to seek 15 minutes of political attention. The Monster Raving Loony Party seemed an amusing distraction back in the 80`s, but its successors in the codswallop contest deliver accidental comedy rather than deliberate mickey-taking buffoonery. (more…)