Very cool. An excellent Music/CDT video for your entertainment…
I’m really happy to report that The Straight has received some praise recently and I want to quickly thank those who have commented and contacted me and asked some questions about it. We shoot a lot of video and make short films for clients and the website. In fact what started out as an idea for a weekly podcast has turned into a small video production company… The Straight was designed to be shown at a CPD session and be used to spark debate and discussion amongst groups of teachers and it works very well in that way and is an excellent ice-breaker.
We’ve been asked to do a few more and we will, as soon as we can get them made we will post them.
Yes, you can show it and use it in your CPD sessions as you can use all of the material we publish on the website. If you’d like us to make something else let us know. We make out money running CPD in schools and colleges and designing training events, if you would like us to do something for you do get in touch.
The Straight was filmed in Sprotbrough, Conisbrough and Edlington, South Yorkshire over a few days this Summer using JVC, Go-Pro and Panasonic Camcorders… all still work.
I heard yet another tail of woe yesterday, a headteacher on the sick 2 weeks before an inspection, deputy and assistant heads in the dark, teaching staff demoralised. Rather sadly, it is a very common story which I hear far too regularly.
To follow the stereotype through I would expect the head to have had a leadership problem, not delegated sufficiently well and not managed the staff. If this was baseball that would be her error, a stolen base and potential RBIs (hey, its the world series on Wednesday, Detroit versus San Francisco…). But in an organisation like a school the error is often not that easily attributed and I would look at the governors and the deputies as having let the school down as well.
Somewhere along the line someone didn’t say “no” when they should have.
Saying no is one of the hardest things to do in any workplace and something which is accentuated when the management structure is fractured or wobbly. You should be able to say no without fear of retribution or ridicule. You should be able to say no with a clear conscience and mutual respect. You should be able to say no, but I bet you can’t.
We are almost hard wired to not be able to do it. It might be something we were trained out of in our youth, saying no to your parents, for example was not allowed and saying no to your own teacher was also something which would have led to a punishment of some sort. You can check if you can say no, by doing the “sending food back in a restaurant” test… If the food is slightly cold what do you do? Put up with it or send it back? If you can send it back then you have most of the ‘saying no’ tools in your briefcase, if you struggle and would probably choose not to “cause a scene” then we need to do a little more work and go and look at assertiveness, one of my favourite topics.
Assertiveness is the cornerstone of being able to say no and we’ll come back to it in other posts. You can find quite a lot of excellent material on line already. It is also one of the best one day training courses you can go on. Crack assertiveness and saying no will follow…
This video was used to provoke debate in staff development sessions. It asks a very simple question about learning, school, examinations and life. Do you ever step off the straight? The film always provokes some good discussion, and a lot of comment, particularly about the cyclists breathing!
Please feel free to use the film in your own staff development sessions, here are some questions and prompts to get things going.
1) In this school, what is the straight? Just how much is set down and formally required? Just how flexible is the curriculum?
2) The cyclist clearly has a sense of adventure as a lot of risks are taken and there is a lot of potential danger. What are the risks in stepping off the straight in this school? Is there really, truly, any danger?
3) Who would you need to speak to about stepping off the straight? Is it right that you have autonomy in your classroom and the freedom to do what you want without clearing it with anyone? Head of year? Head of department? Headteacher? What would the headteacher say anyway?
4) Why do you think the film is called “The Straight” and not “The Straight and Narrow”?
5) How do you measure it? Everything is measured in school so how do you measure a journey where you are not sure where you are going? What would OFSTED say? How do you show the value of using your own initiative?
6) You may know of some alternative approaches to education that value ‘the journey’ more than ‘the destination’. Why do we not value these approaches more in this country?
I try not to jump onto here and rant about the latest headline, it’s often dodgy information presented in a sensationalist way. I think this story is a good example of that. Apparently there are no girls studying A level physics, unless you are in a girls’ school.
The thing I want to mention is subjects and gender bias, rather than if this story is true or not. In my experience it’s not true, I see plenty of girls doing science subjects wherever I go, maybe not enough, but that’s another matter.
What is true though, is that there are many subjects that show gender bias. I went to a conference on it back in 1996 and I don’t see much change since then. Not enough girls do technology subjects, not enough boys do arts subjects, not enough girls do engineering, not enough boys do healthcare, travel and tourism etc. Despite work and effort though it seems to be a strightforward issue. So how do you get around it?
Maybe its the subject that is wrong. Perhaps purist approaches to subjects bring with them a long established and deep settled gender bias. We can do lots of work on it and try to resolve it, but it doesn’t simply go away for ever. Perhaps if the subject was recast in something that was relevant across the genders the student intake would be equal. Perhaps subjects have had their day and we should be looking at new designations of curriculum, such as problem solving, materials technology, wearable electronics, and the like which bring currency and purpose and newness. That’s a lot of “perhaps”… I know.
But nevertheless, maybe subjects have had their day.
“Compared to BSF these designs represent a reduction in wasted space – 15% for secondary and 5% for primary schools – whilst maintaining the same size teaching space, classrooms, staffrooms, sport, and art and design facilities. These new schools will still be bigger than secondary schools built in 2004 and primaries built in 2006.”
I wouldn’t go as far as call it a plague, as others have, but I do think many of us suffer from procrastination issues and don’t have any solutions for it. This excellent little video from ‘Brain Pickings’ is probably just what you need to start to put some measures in place to make your work time more productive.
One hour of focused work is better than 2 hours of fannying about.
‘Brain Pickings‘ are one of the inspirations for A* to G, do check out their excellent site and donate if you can.
You may be interested to see that Sir Kenneth Baker is the Chair of the Edge Foundation, there are lots of pics of him at the Six Steps for Change launch on their flickr feed http://www.flickr.com/photos/edgefoundation/ Yes, that Kenneth Baker, tory minister under Thatch, he who gave us “Baker Days”, the National Curriculum and SATs. Having said that though he also deeply understands the vocational world and is doing a great job at Edge. Some Conservatives do understand the real world, I was sorry to see John Hays go from his post in charge of FE and Skills in the last re-shuffle and worry deeply about his replacement.
He’s not my favourite Ken Baker though, that is Kenny Baker, the actor who was inside the R2-D2 costume in Star Wars.
On a similar line to Edge’s initiative is Free Education, http://free-education.org who are trying to wrestle education from the hands of the politicians and are currently fund raising and mobilising. As long as education is in the hands of people who don’t understand it we will never really make any true progress.
All good stuff.
You’ve got to support something like this, so I am happy to pass on Suw’s video for all, please circulate and donate if you can. Ada Lovelace is big in the engineering, science and maker worlds, which I’ve posted on before, and she also gave her name to Adafruit which is one of my favourite electronics companies and communities in New York. She would be a very useful surf for those who have never heard of her.
Also Suw’s bookcase, with Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams and loads of Sci Fi looks a lot like mine… was this shot here?
I’d like to welcome “No Full Stops in Education” to our team. You will immediately spot that she is far more intelligent than I because she’s keeping her identity secret. Very wise. So just to say she’s in a senior position in HE, with a deeply impressive and knowledgable history in education, policy and qualifications behind her. I look forward to her posts.
What a summer! I was lucky to be able to watch and attend the Olympics, what a privilege! I am still reflecting on the skills and talents of the athletes; what was it that made these people not only be good enough to get to the Olympics but for some of them to actually be the best on the day and get either a bronze, silver or gold medal and a few more than one? This was a celebration of people that had gained skills and became the best in the world.
So what has the DfE learnt from this summer of the excellent displays of vocational and knowledge-based skills in perfect balance? Oh yes, there was some awkwardness around school playing-field statistics and policy, and competitive sports was being debated again! For me this was an opportunity to say yes, children can benefit from a balance of academic and vocational study, both of which they will need in the work place along with personal skills.
Is the debate for this tripartite of essential skills over as we move into Autumn and the demand for academic rigour is met? Or will the placement of David Laws in the corridors of Sanctuary Building make a difference?