19th October 2012 at 01:00

Mexican stand-off beats the boycott

Among the perennial issues at the University and College Union annual congress is the question of what tactics bring the best results for FE teachers. Is it better militantly to oppose changes that lecturers dislike or does smooth negotiation win better results?

FErret expects events in the Mexican state of Michoacan to reignite the debate - just as they have literally ignited the streets of Michoacan. Students at teachers' colleges have been protesting against new curriculum requirements that they learn English and computer science, arguing that they teach in rural areas where everyone speaks Spanish, no one is an app developer and basic skills are in greater demand.

To that end, they hijacked buses and delivery trucks for a week, battled police with rocks and fireworks, and set fire to a dozen vehicles. Police raided three of the colleges and arrested 176 protesters, according to the Associated Press. All of which makes the Institute for Learning boycott look rather tame. Your move, UCU.

Students, too, prefer carrots to sticks

One of the world's foremost experts on preventing bad behaviour visited Easton College in Norfolk this week. Given that it's a college with an agricultural focus, however, it's not human behaviour he's an expert on: the college was playing host to Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer made famous by the movie of the same name.

Still, for those desperately needing to top up their continuing professional development hours, some of his advice still seemed to apply: listen, ask for rather than demand respect - and don't use whips. Using that advice, FErret understands, you'll be able to avoid a range of problems, from students' napping and kicking to "spookiness".

Mr Roberts also paid tribute to the Queen in her jubilee year. "She is a fantastic student of horsemanship and, in my opinion, she is the one world leader who has had the greatest influence on man's relationship with animals," he said.

Really? More than Vladimir Putin hang-gliding with Siberian cranes? If so, then congratulations to Her Majesty.

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