Buana Pizza Pasta is opening and I am NOT VERY HAPPY about it

The Fruits Are Sweet

Until now, all the restaurants in my town have been French. I love French restaurants. In fact, I make a living as a consultante to French restaurants, telling them how to be really French, but that’s by-the-by and not relevant at all to what I am about to tell you.

Last week it was announced that a new restaurant was coming to town: “Buana Pizza Pasta”. This is an outrage. While it is admittedly the case that a great many people have expressed a desire for Italian food, indeed that they are really fed up with French, the fact remains that the head chef of this new establishment is has fewer years in the restaurant industry than me. I’m not going to talk about my objections to Italian food here, but rather my grave concerns about the staffing of this restaurant. Never mind the head chef has published three widely-acclaimed…

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It’s Not Funny

The Grumpy Teacher

The Times Education Supplement reckons that pupils want teachers to be funny. It’s the number one quality. These findings are being given elaborate respect, but given that ‘good at explaining’ is ranked twenty-third by the primary-school respondents and twenty-fourth by the secondary-school respondents out of the twenty-five characteristics supplied to them, I’m afraid I’m disinclined to take this survey seriously. Either the survey was flawed, or – more likely – children don’t think that teachers being able to explain things to them is important.

I find the latter easy to believe, but I don’t find it easy to believe that any but the most progressive of teachers actually agree with them. Surely ‘discovery learning’ demands some very good explanation at the beginning of each self-directed task? Anyone who has set project work, or set up a drill on the sports field, or even just read out a complicated email sent…

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The tears of a clown

Teaching it Real

Do children really want their teachers to be entertainers? Is it all about positive relationships?
A recent piece in TES, (25 traits that make a perfect teacher) which revealed what pupils say they value in a teacher, raised some eyebrow. They say that…

Funny: that’s what students want you, their teacher, to be. And they don’t just want you to have a joke in your teaching toolbox to provide some light relief from the drudgery of endless exams. Asked by Tes to list the characteristics that every teacher should possess, more than 3,000 students – from primary, secondary and special schools – said the ability to amuse was not just an important attribute, but something that determined whether a teacher was truly great.

I can see why this may cause some eyes to roll. For too many years, teachers have been told that they need to be “engaging”…

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Daisy Christodoulou’s ‘Making good progress?’ My initial thoughts

I have just finished reading the excellent ‘Making good progress?’ and my head is brimming with ideas. What I particularly like about Christodoulou’s writing is that it is clear, concise and gets right to the point. So often, academic writing can be dense and rather turgid – getting through it can be a badge of perseverance. Not so with ‘Making good progress?’ which I easily read in one day. That’s not to say it makes for light reading, but simply that there is not a single superfluous paragraph in it. And there is so much to think about – I’m sure I will be delving in and out of this book regularly for the foreseeable future, as I develop as a teacher.

Source: Daisy Christodoulou’s ‘Making good progress?’ My initial thoughts

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Peter Whitton

teaching personally

On 2nd August, one of the inspirational teachers of my life passed away. Peter Whitton will not be known to a wider public, and he always utterly played down the only public connection he had – the unlikely fact that he was the cousin of glam-rock star Alvin Stardust.

Before I knew him, Peter was a colleague and friend of my father at the Boys’ Grammar School that I later attended; Peter’s wife Ann was similarly a colleague of my mother at the town’s Girls’ Grammar School. I remember our calls to the Whittons’ rather chaotic ex-farmhouse as a very young boy while my both my mother and Ann were on maternity leave.

Later, Peter taught me Classical Studies and then ‘O’ Level Latin; having drained myself slogging through French grammar, I never really repeated the task with Latin, and was never one of his best pupils. But I…

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docendo discimus

The announcement of the new BPP PGCE in the TES yesterday generated a lot of twittering, most of which struck me as knee-jerk in nature, unduly negative, and rather uninformed. Now, given the nature of Robert Peal’s polemic against the educational establishment – which ended by describing all those people who (whether right or wrong) had dedicated their working lives to trying to provide a good education for our children, as a persistent national embarrassment – I’m not overly bothered that criticisms that he only trained 6 years ago, hasn’t even been in the classroom for all of that time, and therefore doesn’t have the necessary experience to run the course, are a bit personal. However, I do think trying to tar the subject tutor team with the same brush is unfair since some of them can count their teaching experience in decades and all those I know anything about have clearly been effective teachers and…

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Why I won’t “check my privilege” – A defence of Individuality

I do not like being referred to as a “white man” or “straight white man” or being told to “check my privilege”. I do not like being reduced to innate physical characteristics and I certainly do not like being lumped into a group with others I know nothing about. It is lazy and it allows for those who would label me (or anyone else) to make blanket generalisations about my personality, my social and political views and my intentions. In other words, it is a means of stripping me of my individuality, of my opinions on important cultural and political matters, and it is a bullying tactic that attempts to make me feel guilty for the hardships (real or perceived) of other supposedly corralled and monolithic groups.

Source: Why I won’t “check my privilege” – A defence of Individuality

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