School ties that bind

29th February 2008 at 00:00
It's good to see young people speaking out, entering the democratic debate, trying to influence events. So we must congratulate Declan Slaven and Amy Brodie, head boy and girl at Portobello High, Edinburgh, who have taken the campaign for a new school to a new level. The enterprising duo fronted a DVD setting out the arguments and sent it off to all and sundry in the capital who would listen. Confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society - the phrases were surely coined for them.

But some doughty burghers of Auld Reekie thought otherwise. A writer to the evening paper bemoaned their "carelessly slack ties and open-necked shirts", which are "indicative of all that is wrong with the young people of today".

We shall never see their likes again.

Fancy that

It's always a delight to receive press releases from the heart of government - especially when they are of startling import. The one that grabbed our attention this week was astonishing. Maureen Watt, the Schools Minister, was attending the first annual conference of Respectme, the new anti-bullying organisation. "Schools minister speaks out against bullies" was the shocking headline. As someone once said (almost), we don't believe it.

It's the way I tell 'em

According to Patrick O'Donnell, a lecturer at Perth College: "Inevitably, when it comes to exploring the different perceptions surrounding institutional restructuring and change, there will be those who view institutional leaders as having a narcissistic propensity to see their organisation as an arena in which they can exercise their power to impose personal 'visions'. However, it is argued here that it is all too easy to fall into the trap of constructing critiques or hierarchical dichotomies which ultimately reduce the complex social dynamics of such conflicts into simplistic polarities.

"Such intellectual shortcuts simplify complexity and absolve us from the responsibility of forming more balanced judgments by posing more meaningful questions, such as those interconnected to power relations, organisational culture and the way we scrutinise and deconstruct policy."

Perhaps it was going on to take a doctorate in education at Stirling University that did it.

Joys of the day job

Don't blame us, it was a teacher who told us that you know you work in education when: you can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line; you can tell if it's a full moon without ever looking outside; you believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.

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