Tag Archives: education

The Education revolution starts TODAY! The radicals, at last, have all the best tunes.

Whilst Pink Floyd indicated their intent to start an educational revolution in the 1980s with their rousing ‘We Don’t Need No Education” (ironically indicating to the pedants amongst us exactly why some education was needed when it came to communicating to the rest of the English speaking world – it’s ANY education, Jones – not NO education – do keep up boy!), the most recent education revolution started TODAY at the recent TEDXLondon event at London’s Roundhouse.

And like all good revolutions, the Education Revolution is being broadcast through popular song with the revolutionaries on the stage proclaiming their intent through a collection of songs which will no doubt find their way onto ITunes in time for Christmas, or at least every school’s Nativity Play.

(Go work down) On the Waterfront is an exhilarating rehash of the old Simple Minds classic: it will be a treat to see them rejuvenate themselves and bring that thumping great bass line, simplistic memorable lyrics and exhortation to bring in the ‘real world of work’ into the imaginary world of the classroom.

Let’s Make Mistakes Together will be a soulful ballad delicately performed by Will Young and a backing chorus of X-Factor rejects who have been picked up off the audition room floor by Will, given a dusting down and placed on the road to fame and fortune.

I am me because of us is a defiant anthem which Celine Dion has penned but which U2 will be treating with a newly invigorated Eno at the mixing desk and Chumbawumba offering free style rabble rousing. Expect the addition of a further guitar courtesy of Paco de Lucia and the sampled ukele of George Formby.

Emily is one of the top ten outstanding people in the world is a remake of the lost Belle and Sebastian track from the 1998 album, Boy with the Arab Strap. It wasn’t a particularly impressive number then but with Goldie at the mixing desk, things can only get better as Ken Robinson was heard to be singing over the weblink.

She made a self-sustaining fridge for West Africa has been especially commissioned from Ray Davies, formerly of The Kinks, but still showing his penchant for English whimsy. ‘Self Sustaining Fridge’ is reminiscent of his early 1960s album, Arthur, on which She Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina” was an audience favourite at the Marquee (just around the corner from the Roundhouse, funnily enough).

So although the education revolution starts TODAY and no-one’s too sure who’s leading this, who the guerillas are, where the anarchists are in the mix and where the collateral damage is going to occur, we can all at least be confident that this revolution will at least have some decent songs, downloads, tracks and other commerical spin offs.

The point of school: hanging out with new knowledges behind the bike sheds.

What’s the point of schools any more?  Kids are socialites at 7, adults at 12 and doubting everything the teacher and the school stands for. Behaviour is questionable, deference is a quaint notion of a rose tinted past when teachers were head of the classroom and everyone knew and welcomed their places.

Curriculum is irrelevant and has been superceded by the Internet where children work out of their own curriculum and syllabus, perhaps blindly, perhaps intuitively, perhaps guided by who knows what – certainly things we parents and teachers know nothing or little about.

These are desperate existential times when all our purposes reasons and rationales have been thrown up into the air and scrutinised like never before. So what place the teacher? The school? The curriculum even?

For all that despair and deep questioning…there is still the essence of the adult / child relationship at the heart of the learning process – the adult / old knowledge can’t be swept away. There is history -culture – language – the other – to contend with.Stuff which resides in the old, the unfamiliar, the awkward, the stuff the young don’t / won’t access drily through the Internet and the fashionable modes of social networking.

What we are left with -.and what can’t be swept away in a tide of acronyms and text speak – is us – you and me here and now in real time and space and our awkwardnesses and misunderstandings.

What is the point of school, teachers, curriculum? To learn of the other, from the other; to socialise the unsocial and antisocial; to expose our awkwardnesses and differences and to acknowledge, value and celebrate difference and otherness.

This is not just about engaging in extra-curricula activities. “The other” in this context means anyone who is not like us; who has different knowledge bases and skillsets, different languages and different habits and cbringing this means bringing different subjects and knowledges to the student through the essential relationship that students have with their teachers (and peers and families etc).

School has to be about bringing us close, again, to people ‘not like us’ – who we might deem unacceptable, troublesome, problematic as they don’t fit our world view. This is more than just going to art classes but meeting new cultures, ways of being and different socialities than we are accustomed to. Again, all matters which can be brought to bear by rigorous, challenging educational content: and certainly not just through ‘hanging about with your mates’ at the end of a long hard school day.

The point of schools is that they have to provide spaces, relationships and time with teachers and peers to bring all those matters to the fore. Whether our schools do that at the moment, again, is another question that needs asking.  No amount of befriending on facebook or googling the worlds ever expanding databases will ever be able to emulate the simple purpose of education and all its actors: the ability for me to understand you and you to understand me, in all our differences, three dimensional truths and multi dimensional complexities.

The London Black Cab and an epistemiological crisis in the making. Number 1 in the series: Knowledge, traffic and arts based research.

What’s up with London cabbies? Yesterday I wanted to go to the annual BERA conference at the fabulous Institute of Education.  Its such an obvious drive from Euston, no-one on earth who was working as a taxi driver would have claimed ignorance of its existence.

But not the taxi driver who picked me up.  He claimed he’d never been to the Institute of Education in Bedford Way, that he’d never heard of it and had no idea how to get there.   Apparently,  black taxis no longer know everything about London’s streets. There is no longer such a thing as ‘The Knowledge‘ apparently: the collective wisdom and skills supposedly held by all Black Taxi cabs since time began.

This is alarming in the short term – what will they all do during the Olympics? The idea of London full of black cabs perpetually getting lost is dire. You expect it of the minicabs – they’re full of guys who have a satnav with attitude and have seen too many de Niro films – but the loss of the knowledge by these seemingly unchanging parts of London’s make-up is more worrying in its implications for the rest of us.

What if we all found that the knowledge we learnt 24 years ago was useless?  That whilst we might have taught particular subjects one way, we were to  just throw up our hands, shrug our shoulders and say, well, that’s the way it was, and I have no idea what we should be teaching any longer. What if we were civil engineers and took the view that because bridges were once built on stilts, that any new technologies were now beyond us?  We’d all resort to the SatNav equivalents of our trade – and we know what that leads to when it comes to trying to get anywhere in the world.

The knowledge-less taxi driver is of course a problem when it comes to negotiating the streets of London; but the knowledge-free zone that teachers are turning into, that doctors are becoming and rocket scientists seem to be blindly accepting is a poor state of affairs for all of us.

The question is of course, what kind of knowledge really matters?  We’re working within the relatively new research field of arts based research and are working within BERA to establish new ways of understanding the world, and using the arts to develop new forms of knowledge.  The next BERA conference in Manchester will see the results of our next endeavours: we may even be able to help taxi drivers find their way around the capital cities of the world!

Number 1 in an the series: Knowledge, traffic and how arts based research can help the modern driver.

More travel knowledge here.