Jotter - Building blockages

28th January 2011 at 00:00

It has finally got too much for Edinburgh teacher Jim Aitken. The architects of the curriculum and the curriculum architecture have caused him to explode. As a language lover, he has a poetic means of venting his spleen:

When I think of architecture

I always think of architects -

Frank Lloyd Wright, Gaudi or Gehry - and not curriculum planning.

These architects designed buildings

that were bold, beautiful, daring

and they challenged all convention,

opening up to light and life.

The curricular architects

seem terribly out of their depth

since they dispense with foundations

and abandon light for the fog.

Their buildings, towers of Babel

built only on gobbledegook,

journey to some vague excellence

as substantial as the hot air.

School of hard knocks

A new Furniture World catalogue has been dropping through schools and education department letterboxes since New Year, inviting them to buy classroom furniture before the end of the financial year and next year's cuts bite.

Most of what's on offer carries the tag "designed for rigorous educational use", but a particular range of what are designed as "education welded tables" comes with the line "designed for severe educational use".

The catalogue fails to say what "severe education" might be, but could sin-bin or detention use be envisaged? Or are the tables designed to be flung around a classroom, meeting as they do BS5873 (1985) pt3 1v15 standards?

Forget fluffy stuff about curricular excellence, let's hear it for severe education.

Rising star

Probably not for the first time, we are grateful to Mr Bean - Martin Bean, that is, of the Open University. Addressing the forum on part-time education (p18), he shared the thoughts of a boy who told him: "School's like a plane. You have to trust someone at the front you don't know and turn off electronic devices." This lad's imagination has taken off.

Russell sprouts

Education Secretary Mike Russell was at his magisterial best in Parliament earlier this month, making his customary plea for all the parties to put their consensual shoulders behind the wheel of Scottish education. Unfortunately, opposition MSPs simply wanted the wheels to come off his wagon over the Argyll school closures row.

Russell was happy to warmly endorse other sentiments, expressed in a robust defence of rural schools in 2000 - from George Lyon, the Liberal election co-ordinator "who has been supporting 25 school closures in Argyll and Bute".

Consensus? What consensus?

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today