Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Future of Education:
an event report…

The Great Room at The RSA was full. Like a Calima, drawn towards the depression that is education in England, conversation and debate swept across the room.

We had assembled to hear Profesor Danny Dorling and Professor Diane Reay give their assessments of English education today, and to provide us with both data and questions of challenge in our collective pilgrimage for reform.

The short films below give you a flavour of our event and the messages delivered by our speakers…

youtubeButton  Professor Danny Dorling, Oct. 5th 2015

youtubeButton  Professor Diane Reay, Oct. 5th 2015

Professor Dorling challenged his audience to imagine an education system without so much testing. His exposition included illustrations of how we value memory above problem solving and experimentation. He was delighted to see in the audience, after general questioning, that so many of us had achieved ‘A’ grades. A triumph of conformity, alas, in the Dorling assessment. The whole treatise bringing into doubt the formula that a more expensive education is a more privileged education.

Professor Reay used her allotted time to deliver a statistical analysis of the inequalities in education in our country. Highlighting the fact that in the private sector, for example, spend per pupil is 2.5 times higher than in the state sector. She also highlighted the deficiencies in access to the broad and balanced curriculum which children and young people need, along with a strong section in her presentation, on happiness and wellbeing. Often disregarded, she argued, in any assessment of educational utlilty or achievement.

Whether for learners or teaching staff, levels of distress and dissatisfaction have never been higher, Professor Reay argued. Much was also made of the increasingly low level of professional autonomy afforded teachers in England now.

This was a well attended IETT event, with very high quality engagement and telling analysis from our speakers. This prompted some very lively discussion across the room, as well as new networking and professional acquaintance for many visitors to our conference. Ed.

interneticon2 (copy)  You can see more IETT events on our Conference and Events page here.

interneticon2 (copy)  You can also find more films on this topic on our The Debate – filmed page here.

interneticon2 (copy)Event films by Dan Keeble – Video Editor / Producer / DP

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference

Flotsam series:
The Sustainable Personality

Robert Lindberg is a Swedish writer and speaker, who is currently working in England, developing his theories of personal development, better  and more meaningful human contact and perceptions of the sustainable society.

Robert, in a recent talk, declared ‘…it is time to be smart – to be humane is to be smart‘. This chimed strongly with discussions we have been recently engaged in about the quality of discourse regarding society, the individual and, of course, the role that education plays in the formation of these key  edifices of civic and personal interaction.

Robert’s web pages offer some simple, elegant and very nicely built examples  of his thinking. They are beautifully illustrated, concise and offer the viewer a great way to start a conversation about the key themes of his thesis.

We particularly liked his short opus on Collaboration – Healthy Productivity

The Linbergian argument, in this case, is supported by the research and writings of Alfie Kohn, whose early book No Contest – the Case Against Competition still well illustrates how becoming locked into competitive, anti-equality modes of thought can stifle the creativity, the potential and life chances of children and young people.

Robert generously publishes his film work under a Creative Commons license, and we think they can be perfect as a teaching/discussion tool. Kick starting a session to provoke reflection, analysis and clear thinking on a variety of thematic issues.

All are to do with our humanity.

We commend the work of Robert Lindberg to our journal readers. We think there’s a fresh, innovative and open mind at work. See Robert’s web site for more details and how to engage with the author here.

(Flotsam is our occasional series of new ideas emerging from outside the English education system…Ed).

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference

Free money for all –
A basic human right?

In the video below, Rutger Bregman as part of a TEDx Maastricht talk, informs us of the validity of a single idea that links Thomas Paine and Milton Friedman.

Bregman argues for the universal dispersion of the basic income, as a human right. His opening argument is based upon the notion of standing on the shoulders of giants. ‘Our forefathers have worked so hard to achieve our level of propserity, we should now be able to give everyone a share of that prosperity…’

He argues that in communities where basic income experiments have been attempted, the outcome can be measured in better educational achievement, lower truancy rates, and higher economic growth. Developing an active, participatory counter to inequality.

In a disenfranchised community, he argues, a basic income frees human capacity…it does not diminish it or whither it out of laziness or lack of engagement in societal progress.

Nixon, in the 1970’s nearly passed legislation that engendered the basic income in the US, arguably at the cost of only 25 per cent of the US Defense Budget. A development now long forgotten in US economic thinking.

The London charitable experiment, cited in the film, to give long term homeless men free money, as an alternative to counselling, police monitoring and other forms of ‘traditional’ support also resulted in a variety of sustainable self help outcomes that was, by conventional critiques of ‘the benefit society’, surprising and enduring.

Bregman argues against the three most often made arguments for a universal ‘citizen wage’. It’s too expensive, all people will stop working and it will never happen, politically. The film highlights both optimism, human nature and the individuals need to make a contribution to society as counters to these narrow objections.

  • The Green Party have argued for the universal wage in their UK manifesto at the last election. Is this an idea that can stand a return to wider national focus?
  • Might this economic reform be the very bedrock of enduring and effective educational reform too?
  • Might the introduction of a universal, non-means tested income prevent the collapse of the middle -class through the unending pressure of inequality?

You can visit the web site and cast a vote for the universal basic income.

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference

Injustice – why social inequality still persists?

Danny Dorling has a new edition of Injustice – Why social inequality still persists available. You can discover this and more of Danny’s work on the pages of PolicyPress at the University of Bristol here.

More here…

‘This fully rewritten and updated edition revisits Dorling’s claim that Beveridge’s five social evils are being replaced by five new tenets of injustice: elitism is efficient; exclusion is necessary; prejudice is natural; greed is good and despair is inevitable. By showing these beliefs are unfounded, Dorling offers hope of a more equal society’.

About the author:

Danny Dorling is the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford. He is  Honorary President of the Society of Cartographers.

He helped create the website which shows who has most and least in the world, working with Mark Newman,  Anna Barford, Ben Wheeler, John Pritchard, Graham Allsopp and Benjamin Hennig.

Danny and his work can be discovered on his own web pages here.

Professor Dorling was a speaker at our recent RSA conference, The Future of Education in England. Watch this space for an event review and films of our speakers and their contribution to a lively debate and thoughtful deliberation on educational reform.

Remember to visit our Monographia page to see interesting papers and reports which are attuned to our movements aims. Join the debate.

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference