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A LETTER TO THE GODDESS DEMOKRATIA

THIRTEEN YEARS AND ALMOST FORTY VISITS - PART THREE

THIRTEEN YEARS AND ALMOST FORTY VISITS - PART TWO

THIRTEEN YEARS AND ALMOST FORTY VISITS

Reflections on 1948

FACEBOOK BLOGS

EXPLORING (A LITTLE) THE CONCEPTS OF INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION

THE CLOWN PRINCE OF SOCCER

WHAT DO I WANT FROM CORBYN?

A WRITTEN CONSTITUTION

A Royal Need for Political Education

WE HAVE THE CIRCUS, WHERE IS THE BREAD?

Government With Or Without Politics

Concepts or Dustbins Revisited

From Stability to Chaos

Blair Selection

Social Fracking as a Conceptual Framework

The Grand Old Man

Concepts or Dustbins

Political Education

Towards The Socially Critical Educator

Unleashing Demons

Principles of Governemnt Exam

A Sheep, A Pig And The Meaning Of Educational Progress

SATS and sherry

Thoughts on examining an education masters dissertation on a divided Palestinian village

A load of Clarke and Balls

Waiting For Chilcot

A Blair Quartet

A short story of out-sourcing policy-making

Blair and Education

Social Fracking Summarised

Education policy: ownership insufficiently disputed

Reflections of a Professional Educator in Israel

Personal reflection

Political education and political literacy in schools or civics and citizenship

Naming of Parts

Equalisers, stabilisers and a contrived social collapse

Social Fracking - Discoursing on the impact of Gove and Co.

Social Fracking

Stratification: that’s the name of the game and each generation they play the same

Counterpoint to the current Coalition Government: a discourse of humanity from our previous Coalition Government

Critical Professional Conversation

Postwar Themes and Phases of Education Policy Making

Constructing a personal philosophy of education: A starter critical conversation

Policy making by means of politics and consent or by means of power and imposition

The Values of New Labour: a discursion on its approaches to schooling in England and to government and politics in general

Critical Professional Voices in Education: a series of essays for critical conversations

A LETTER TO THE GODDESS DEMOKRATIA

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By Christmas 2019 The Word Newspaper hopes to have on sale a book on Democracy. What follows is my chapter. As I write Boris remains on the throne.

I begin with my responses to the same questions all contributors were asked. And, like all the others, there is a short professional autobiography.

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THIRTEEN YEARS AND ALMOST FORTY VISITS - PART THREE

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Teaching in West Jerusalem people from East Jerusalem can present you with some irritating practical problems. Travelling from one side to another is not always straightforward. I wish the audience could have been bigger and that we had made more of a fuss of Areej when I presented her with the winning prize from the International Professional Development Association (IPDA) for her masters dissertation). She is now the headteacher of a girls secondary school in East Jerusalem. At the time she was deputy head.

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THIRTEEN YEARS AND ALMOST FORTY VISITS - PART TWO

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In 1995/6 the Education Faculty of the University of Liverpool responded to an approach by an Israeli bloke who had spotted an opportunity. Schoolteachers in Israel, irrespective of their cultural, racial, religious and political backgrounds, were not only entitled to a year long sabbatical every seven or so years but also to a wage increment and improved pension if they had a masters degree. There was a demand for such degrees. It could not be fulfilled within Israel. Universities in Israel had the power to prevent what in the UK we used to call Teacher Training Colleges awarding masters degrees. Demand exceeded supply and control of the supply was in the hands of the established universities of Israel.

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THIRTEEN YEARS AND ALMOST FORTY VISITS

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This will be a series of accounts and reflections upon my experience working first for the University of Liverpool and then the University of Derby directing, teaching and examining masters degrees in education for schoolteachers in Israel. The series is based upon an earlier reflection published on my website. The students were from very mixed cultural, religious and political backgrounds and for Liverpool we worked in Arabic, English and Modern Hebrew. I based the language model on my experience of examining GCSE in both Welsh and English.

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Reflections On 1948

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I was six. We had just moved house. I got a new music teacher. My brother Ivor went to sea for the first time. We both cried. Dick Haymes sold more records than Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra put together. What else happened that year?

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FACEBOOK BLOGS

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What follows is a small selection of what I have been writing on Face book. I can see that I ought to have planned this earlier and sorted out dates and themes. They all come from May 2019. One date is easy to guess. It was written the day before the fortieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher becoming prime minister.

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EXPLORING (A LITTLE) THE CONCEPTS OF INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION

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African huts provide more than shelter. They are also about community; about decision making; and about social cohesion. Those huts are a concept rich in meaning. It is better to be inside than outside.

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THE CLOWN PRINCE OF SOCCER

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I use the S-Word less these days because the American usage of it seems to be part of a plot to persuade us all to believe that a game played with the hands should be called football. And what a silly game: ten seconds of action followed by a meeting and then a plenary to plan the next ten seconds of action while yet more hot dogs are sold to the spectators. Theresa May must be a fan for she has based her entire Brexit strategy on this approach.

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WHAT DO I WANT FROM CORBYN?

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A man under attack by the greedy because he is opposed to greed; by racists because he is anti racist; by the creators of and beneficiaries from unfairness because he advocates fairness; by colonisers killing indigenous people because he supports the oppressed; by warmongers because he stands against injustice imposed by military might; by imperialist fantasists because he is not an Empire delusionist; by the choosers of ignorance because his mind is not closed to knowledge; and, generally, by anyone who thinks that the freedom to exploit others is what freedom is all about. I want the following. The list could be longer.

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A WRITTEN CONSTITUTION

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I strongly assert our need for a written constitution. What we have is a monarchy operated by politicians more concerned to obtain power and keep it to themselves rather than to share it with those they claim to represent. Every few years we deceive ourselves and live out a democratic fantasy by voting. Enormous sums of money are spent by the power hungry to manipulate our votes. Manipulation means lies and a vote on the basis of lies is not merely undemocratic but actually anti-democratic. We have a duty to uncover those lies but too often too many of us cannot be bothered.

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A Royal Need for Political Education

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WE HAVE THE CIRCUS, WHERE IS THE BREAD?

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Government With Or Without Politics

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FIVE TESTS FOR GORDON BROWN AND FOR A FEW OTHERS OR HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS? AND MIGHT WE EVER GET OUT OF IT?

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Concepts or Dustbins Revisited

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A POLEMIC ON CONCEPTS, VALUES, DUSTBINS, UNRULY SUBJECTS AND SUBMISSIVE CITIZENS By ‘polemic’ I mean a vigorous argument that eschews contrived balance. Agreement is not required

In 1962 Bernard Crick published In Defence of Politics . The belief that politics is about the inclusive discussion of and arrival at public values needed to be articulated, asserted and defended. It still does. Fifty years after Crick’s book Mathew Flinders, a successor of his at the University of Sheffield, published Defending Politics: why democracy matters in the twenty-first century. It seems that every so often someone has to defend the notion of politics. Participatory democracy began to shrink for us in 1979 with Thatcher and from 1997 Blair tried to do government without politics. Instead he gave us Michael Barber’s deliverology .

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From Stability to Chaos

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Seven overlapping phases of educational policy making in England since the Second World War

We like to give names to phases but need to remember they are not neat and tidy. The walls that we erect between classifications are often very porous. Nevertheless, the naming of phases can help us make sense of our history. I have concentrated upon England but some of these policies have influenced what took place in other countries at various times.

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Blair Selection

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A SELECTION OF PERSONAL WRITINGS ON

THE HOLLOW MAN

ALSO KNOWN AS

TONY BLAIR

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Social Fracking as a Conceptual Framework

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What is a ‘conceptual framework’ when its at home?

If a concept is an idea and a framework holds things together then we have a cluster of ideas that we can use to make sense of our world. For some years I have been using Social Fracking as a conceptual framework: six ideas that I think have power because of their relationship. In the past I have often seen them as the components in a kit used to frack society.

Let me re-state them as a set of forces damaging society. Perhaps we can identify the hands on the levers exerting these forces and also work out what to do about it. So far the social frackers have been getting away with it. What follows merely sketches this conceptual framework. There are many thousands of words about it elsewhere on this website. At the end I have placed a collection of links to some of those words in case they might be of interest.

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The Grand Old Man

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The threat of social fracking is now very great. It will help to remember and re-visit Gladstone. And if you have an interest in education he may be an undiscovered reference point. I start with a story you may not have heard.

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Concepts or Dustbins

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In 1962 Bernard Crick published In Defence of Politics. The belief that politics is about the inclusive discussion of and arrival at public values needed to be articulated, asserted and defended. It still does. In 1971 the Politics Association was formed by and for, mostly, teachers of politics. Bernard was a prominent member of its Executive Committee. I was on that committee. With Alex Porter, he edited the report of the Political Literacy Working Party (1978) . I was also a member of that. As the only schoolteacher (secondary modern) in both groups I sometimes felt distanced from what seemed to me to be the ethos of a largely male senior common room.

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Political Education

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What follows is a slightly amended and added to version of a proposal made by me to The Word newspaper - http://thewordmedia.org.uk/ As I write I have no idea how people will respond. WHEN IT COMES TO POLITICAL EDUCATION ALL ARE TEACHERS AND ALL ARE LEARNERS A PROPOSAL

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Towards The Socially Critical Educator

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Three modes of masters degrees for educators - Education is not instruction and the masters degree provides space for educators to regain, renew and reassert their professionalism. They do, however, need policy-makers to listen.

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Unleashing Demons

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More Students’ Union than European Union - Ten questions on UNLEASHING DEMONS - The Inside Story Of Brexit By (Now Sir) CRAIG OLIVER

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Principles of Governemnt Exam

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There are no correct answers but reasoned responses are encouraged

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A Sheep, A Pig And The Meaning Of Educational Progress

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Note - I have told this story in a number of places on this website but given the determination of so many governments to impose restrictive anti creative systems of learning and assessment I think it is worth singling out for circulation.

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SATS and sherry

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The story of how Standardised Assessment Tasks turned into Statutory Assessment Tests is fascinating and involves at least one glass of sherry late at night as a secretary, using a spell check, sought to turn ‘task’ into ‘test’ in order that in December 1988 Kenneth Baker could get Margaret Thatcher to accept the report of the Task Group on Assessment and Testing (TGAT). Thatcher preferred ‘tests’ to ‘tasks’. The secretary did not manage to turn all the ‘tasks’ into ‘tests’ and ever since people have tried to rationalise the differing terminology.

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Thoughts on examining an education masters dissertation on a divided Palestinian village

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The academic exploration of learning by educators is not always confined to what happens in the classroom. Contexts vary and may require us to make critical sense of a range of political issues. Why would we not? If, for example, two cousins are at schools on different sides of a wall erected in order to separate them we cannot write about their education and ignore the wall. Why is it there? Who put it there? Why is it maintained? Nor can we ignore the impact upon the cousins, their classmates, their teachers and the split societies in which they live and grow.

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A load of Clarke and Balls or A Couple of song and dance men try to run Education - With apologies to Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (Holiday Inn 1942)

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Both Kenneth Clarke (I’m the song) and Ed Balls (and I’m the dance) have recently published their personal political apologias. They each had charge of education for a time so I had a look at what they had to say about it. Having endured Clarke and Balls I read nothing that would restore them in my eyes. They seem to occupy universes of their own in which their actions have no negative consequences.

Most of what follows is based upon my own memories, impressions and reactions. And, yes, I am letting off steam. There are three links but no endnotes.

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Waiting For Chilcot

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In 1971 I became part of a now defunct movement promoting political education, also known as political literacy . I felt it was important that young people not only acquired knowledge of how government worked but also that they learned to practise politics: the inclusive discussion of and consensual arrival at public values. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher began to drastically reduce inclusion and consent and replace democracy with absolutism. The election in 1997 of a Labour government led by Tony Blair did not reverse this. The politician who told us he had no reverse gear increased the speed at which ordinary people were to be excluded from the political process and instead of the people holding governments to account the people were to be held to account by a target setting government devising more and more means of measuring their performance. To make things worse both the targets and the means of measurement had a tendency to change just as people became used to them.

Had that been all it would have been enough for me to want to see the back of Blair, his ‘ism’ and his ‘ites’. It was not, unfortunately, all. In our name, the name of the voters, deadly lies have been told, millions died and displaced, babies born deformed and truth distorted. And, lest we forget, millions made. My purpose in writing here is to contribute to a short-term effort to bring Blair to justice but also to a more long-term effort to make politics more inclusive and consensual and governments more accountable. As is often the case I also write to make sense of things for myself in hopes that it might help others who may agree, disagree or dispute what I have written. Many of my examples are from the world of education because that has been where I have spent most of my professional life. I hope that does not deter too many potential readers.

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A Blair Quartet

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What follows is a set of four small pieces written in the run up to the publication of Tom Bower’s book on Tony Blair. They were originally (they still are) part of an attempt to create interest in the Not In Our Name CD to which so many actors, singers, poets and writers had contributed in order to raise money for the children of Iraq whose suffering because of policies pursued and endorsed by Blair seems to have been filed and forgotten by our governments and mainstream media.

With the very slightest of editing and an awareness that Sir John Chilcot may be in sight of the finishing line I have collected them for re-posting. The word Quartet may remind readers of the role of envoy carried out by Tony Blair on behalf of the Middle East Quartet.

To obtain a copy of the CD click on the link below. It is good stuff. http://notinournamecd.org/

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A short story of out-sourcing policy-making

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In Broken Vows, Tony Blair The Tragedy of Power (2016) Tom Bower provides us with a picture of what for simplicity’s sake I shall call The Department of Education (it undergoes lots of name changes). Blair in 1997, standing on the ground floor of the eight-story atrium looking up at the crowded tiers of civil servants, is received with wild applause as he tells them how important they and education are to him.

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Blair and Education

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When Tony Blair is under discussion it is often Iraq that becomes the sole focus for criticism. I find that frustrating. For me Iraq and Afghanistan were the most deadly and utterly disgraceful consequences of his general approach to government and politics; and I want that approach to be disowned, disavowed and totally abandoned. The damage done and being done by Blair to what we might begin to think of as the global body politic is huge and growing but, for now, I wish to concentrate upon education in, mostly, England.

It appears that education is likely to be presented as a positive counterbalance to an aspect of foreign policy that we shall be told was merely a mistake: one that caused death, deformity, misery and calamitous disruption to many millions but as ‘it was only a mistake’ let us look at some of what we might be told are the wonderful things Blair did for education. Education is my particular field so let me critique, just a bit, Blair and education. I do not expect total agreement.

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Social Fracking Summarised

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Comment: I like to apply the word ‘discursive’ to my writing but at times ‘rambling’ might be more accurate.

Here I am trying to collect in one place most of what I have written on the theme of Social Fracking and add some further explanation, even to attempt some conclusions. Expect some repetition, self-plagiarism or re-working of previous writings.

I formed the notion of Social Fracking during the administration of the Coalition Government (2010-2015). My brother Ivor was dying and for the first time we talked much and long about politics. I decided that the word fracking was appropriate to describe what government was doing to society. Already there had been a lot written about social fracture.

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Education policy: ownership insufficiently disputed

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The phrase ‘self plagiarise’ comes to mind because what follows is based upon a chapter I have written for a book to be published shortly called Mental Health and Well-Being in the Learning and Teaching Environment (published by Swan and Horn http://www.swanandhorn.co.uk/ ). You can also find versions of some of the stories and endnotes in other places on this website (Miscellany and Miscellany 2).

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Reflections of a Professional Educator in Israel

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The work of a professional educator does not take place in a vacuum. The values of a professional educator are formed in society: formed interactively. The practice of a professional educator is never context free. Here is one of the contexts in which I developed, tried out, modified and learned about my own professional values. It is not an exhaustive account. Neither is it intended to be any kind of model for others but I hope it stimulates interest.

It has been said that the personal is political. So also is the professional. If you manage to read through all this you may notice that at one point I ask what the first seven letters of the word ‘professional’ spell. To me they prompt the question: what do we profess?

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Personal reflection

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Here you will find some family history, some anger, some frustration and a failed attempt to compose a battle cry for professional educators. After the General Election of 2015 I think we need a battle cry but right now I am too angry and depressed to try to produce one. Perhaps you can think of one.

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Political education and political literacy in schools or civics and citizenship

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I think that what follows ought to be viewed as a personal ground clearing prior to something more substantial that I might write one day; hence the tentative tone of this abstract. I am trying to form a testable notion: the notion that by setting aside political education and political literacy Margaret Thatcher’s most influential Secretary of State for Education, Kenneth Baker, probably did a lot of damage to our society. I believe that not only were citizenship and active citizenship not any kind of effective substitute but that they were a distraction, possibly an intended distraction. My professional involvement in the subject from the late sixties to the early nineties means that I must come to terms with how I was as a young professional: often confused, frustrated and bemused by my inability, with that of others, to persuade the guardians of what we called ‘the fat cats of the curriculum’ to accept that they should give timetable space to a subject (a thematic subject) they regarded as somewhat infra dig.

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Equalisers, stabilisers and a contrived social collapse

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Here I try to explore an argument that the Welfare State and state education were not generous gifts from the haves to the have-nots but foundations for a relatively calm and cohesive society, even slow progression to greater fairness. They are now under attack. I also refer to the way in which a policy can be perceived from different perspectives to be both progressive and regressive. And I get a bit angry at a photograph. Possibly that could be why I am dissatisfied with my ending: too abrupt as I coped with anger; maybe more another time. I think Cyril Burt knocked me off course just as he tried to when I was eleven . As usual, I do sound off a bit in my endnotes.

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Naming of Parts

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This is my attempt to clarify some relevant concepts and to get to grips with what I hope is literature appropriate to the general theme of Social Fracking. There is always too much to read and more being written as you write. While writing the following I was mostly reading (for the third time in about forty five years) To The Finland Station by Edmund Wilson. I cannot recommend it highly enough for making critical sense of the history and significance of socialist thought from before the French Revolution, even before it could be identified as socialist thought, to that crucial arrival of Lenin at the Finland station prior to the Bolshevik Revolution. If you think this and dialectical approaches to history have no relevance to the policies of Blair, Cameron, Gove et al I hope to convince you otherwise.

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Equalisers, stabilisers and a contrived social collapse

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Here I try to explore an argument that the Welfare State and state education were not generous gifts from the haves to the have-nots but foundations for a relatively calm and cohesive society, even slow progression to greater fairness. They are now under attack. I also refer to the way in which a policy can be perceived from different perspectives to be both progressive and regressive. And I get a bit angry at a photograph. Possibly that could be why I am dissatisfied with my ending: too abrupt as I coped with anger; maybe more another time. I think Cyril Burt knocked me off course just as he tried to when I was eleven . As usual, I do sound off a bit in my endnotes.

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Social Fracking - Discoursing on the impact of Gove and Co.

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What follows is the beginning of a collection of pieces on the theme of Social Fracking. Some of it has appeared on this website in the past either on the In Draft page or as separate items. Given what I believe is the seriousness of the theme I regard the full collection that will eventually appear on the website as a collective essay in the sense of an attempt to make sense of things.

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Stratification: that’s the name of the game and each generation they play the same

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I begin by quoting a famous comedy sketch on social class from The Frost Report of 1966. It involved a very tall John Cleese, a medium sized Ronnie Barker and a diminutive Ronnie Corbett. I wonder who knows or remembers it. Yes, even in 1966 it was a simplification but I use it here as a kind of icebreaker for thinking about class and privilege. We can guess the different types of school to which each of these people went.

Among my endnotes, if you are interested and prepared to engage with my beliefs and values, you may see evidence of my disgust for politicians who are prepared to accept donations from the profiteers of ethnic cleansing by countries that are in breach not only of international law but also of the conventions of common humanity. Such politicians are also very willing to reward these profiteers with peerages that enable them to participate in making legislation that affects negatively the disabled, unhoused, unemployed, exploited, alienated and commodified but affects positively those we may classify as the ‘haves’.

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Social fracking

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Here I try to justify my use of the terms ‘frack’ and ‘fracking’ in social and educational contexts in order to explore what the Coalition Government has been doing. I believe that that using them helps to show up what is happening in a slightly different but useful light. And the words sound so good as well.

This is the most substantial part of my essay or series of essays. I suggest that we are ruled by politicians who do not understand or believe in proper politics; who do not like and are damaging democracy; who are not only unintellectual themselves but are having a de-intellectualising effect upon education and society; who pervert the potential of our education system to enable all children to be fulfilled in favour of fulfilling the few; who remove fairness from society; and who continue to get away with it.

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Counterpoint to the current Coalition Government: a discourse of humanity from our previous Coalition Government

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I wrote this shortly after the 70th anniversary of the publication of what became known as the Beveridge Report. Having been born in the same year it strikes me that there are very few people living in the UK who are not, in one sense or another, Children of Beveridge. I believe that it is worth reflecting on this. The junior partner in our Coalition government might be discomforted if reminded that Beverage was a Liberal MP. I can’t see him in today’s version of the party. I doubt, however, that it agonises over its lost moral purpose or laments its lack of such talent. Just before Christmas 2012 Nick Clegg presented his party as of the centre. While his reason for doing so was clearly to imply that the Conservatives are of the right Clegg’s ‘centre’ is far more to the right than that of his predecessors.

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Critical Professional Conversation

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If you wish to engage in critical professional conversation based upon any discursive pieces of writing you might find what follows to be useful. It is merely an aid to help structure and stimulate conversation and I suggest that you use it or adapt it or think of something that serves you better. It could possibly contribute to the establishment or examination of some professional values, particularly for educators but possibly for others as well. If you think that my tone in what follows is overly teachery I can only apologise.

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Postwar Themes and Phases of Education Policy Making

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This is an attempt to make critical sense of, mostly, school education policy in, mostly, England since the end of the Second World War. Paraphrasing DH Lawrence and inspired by William Beveridge, I assert that the theme of education should be humanity. I look at some of the language and concepts that, often contrarily, lie within our educational discourse as though they were threads in a tapestry executed by different people who were constantly changing, being distracted and losing the needle only, without thinking, to pick up another needle with a different colour thread. I also attempt to classify different phases in policy making.

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Constructing a personal philosophy of education: A starter critical conversation

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Is it possible to build a personal educational philosophy around just three concepts? Yes, I know that is a big question but maybe we can at least begin to hold a critical conversation about it. Here are some beliefs and ideas to start the conversation. I am not doing heavy stuff here about Rousseau or Marx though, of course, you might wish to, especially as they and many others provide valuable insights. Neither do I spend time digging deep to define the concepts. But at a time of accelerated educational change and some confusing and contradictory educational policy making I want to encourage a bit more critical conversation.

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Policy making by means of politics and consent or by means of power and imposition

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In this essay I begin by discussing the political left and the political right. Our current political World does not encourage parties to identify themselves as belonging to either; they all want to claim to be in the middle and, as a result, the terms Left and Right are often used as insults. Given what is now facing us in the form of educational and wider social policy I think we should remind ourselves of the differences between the two ends of this spectrum; politicians may shun identification with them but they remain in place.

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THE VALUES OF NEW LABOUR:
a discursion on its approaches to schooling in England and to government and politics in general

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While writing about New Labour I came to realise that I had already produced many thousands of words around and about this subject in relation to education. Some of those words I shall be making available on this website; some are implicit in various position and discussion papers that I have written or to which I have contributed; and yet more can be found in my writing for CPD Update as editor and subsequently consulting editor and also in my column for Breaktime Magazine.

I am not the only writer to realise at the end that I now know what, from the beginning, I ought to have been writing about. Maybe that is a lesson for governments. Just before retributive Nemesis appears at election time they suddenly awake to what ought to have been. It may be too late for us to go to the educational barricades on behalf of creating a fair society but it should never be too late to ask awkward questions and raise uncomfortable issues. The alternative is to condemn the generation of educators that come after us to yet another professional life dedicated to responding to poorly conceived policies that spring from a belief that unfairness can be reasoned away.

I have never ceased to think of myself as a professional educator. I am, therefore, keen to submit what I have written for others to critique. What, after all, can be learned if questions remain unasked?

The article includes the following content:

Preface
Introduction
New Labour
The moving finger writes: a story
The label
A Campaigning government
So farewell then Sir Humphrey
Avoiding accountability and passing it on others
Licence to teach, a further shift in accountability and the manipulation of evidence
Nationally shaming consequences of New labour
Declaring war on abstract nouns
No professional ghetto
Agents of government
A Story of out-sourcing policy-making
No real consultation but lots and lots of consultants
More on Government and Politics
A Story of contrasting secretaries and ministers of state
Dynamism and sense of purpose of the Gadarene Swine
Initiative fatigue and initiative withdrawal fatigue
A borrowed educational vision
A story about a gerbil and a dexterous and verbally agile secretary of state
The model
Loud but shallow
Professional Life
Gurus and consultants
Faultlines, flaws and a poverty of purpose
A story from Key Stage One
Judgment
How can we rise above current party political values A Critical Professional conversation

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Critical Professional Voices in Education:
a series of essays for critical conversations

I wanted to write these essays because I believe that I have spent much of my professional and personal life responding to poorly constructed and socially damaging educational policies that have been put together by unthinking or narrow-minded politicians. Sometimes these people have been passionate about their policies; sometimes they could not have cared less; and sometimes education has been nothing more than a stepping stone for them towards bigger and better political rewards. Seldom have their policies been worth our efforts to make them work, especially since the best of them are usually dropped in favour of something worse. I think we should talk about this.

Professional educators, perhaps particularly those working in England, have been and are subject to interference that ranges from grand strategy (though not so grand that it does not keep changing) to minute advice on how to teach and how to assess; all of which is accompanied by blame dished out to the qualified by the unqualified.

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