Jotter - Building blockages
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.
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.
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?