A 2016 guide to this blog.

2016I’ve continued to blog in 2016 and this eclectic collection of posts now numbers around 300; not all of which will interest everyone. To remain useful, such a resource needs to be well catalogued so I’ve tried to use categories and tags which help readers find what might interest them and I usually add a ‘see also’ section at the bottom of each post to provide some guidance. Here are a few strands, each of which offers a way in to a number of posts:

1. Most popular posts of 2016 (based on views after they move off the home page): Only one of the top 5 was actually published in 2016. It seems the vintage material is the most popular. Starting with the most read:

(i) What is powerful knowledge? (from 2015) about Michael Young’s book Knowledge and the Future School.

(ii) 20 questions to ask about a book you’ve read (from 2015) a resource for teachers and students.

(iii) Lessons without words: 10 things music teaches us about life (from 2014) a philosophical enquiry into the ineffable…

(iv) Let us be midwives! Sadako Kurihara (from 2015) a deeply affecting poem from the famous Hiroshima survivor.

(v) W.E.B. DuBois, black liberation and liberal education for all. The only post from 2016 to make the top 5.

2. Post-16 education: As a resource for the area review process, I published several posts on the uneven availability of ‘minority’ courses in our current sixth form environment, particularly in London: Dance, music, drama, philosophy, languages, the IB, research projects and classical studies. I also produced a sixth form profile for our East London sub-region and London as a whole. I have continued to argue for area collaboration and an adequate level of investment in our phase of education. I believe we should offer all students a broad, inclusive and challenging curriculum which values knowledge, skill and student research and it seems to me that the proposed National Bacc is a positive step in this direction. Other curriculum posts can be found here including Going beyond and Citizenship education and British values.

3. Education policyFollowing the Market Madness series of 7 posts critiquing market approaches to education, I have also argued against selection here and here. I am encouraged by the idea of a National Education Service and have suggested how to flesh it out and make it popular.

4. Challenging assumptions: I’ve tried to do this in an informed way: Is vocational education in England really ‘inadequate’? (January) The limits of social mobility (March) and Life in the qualification market (May) join previous posts such as: Do qualifications create wealth? Russell group university progression: dispelling the myths, Russell group numbers soar in Newham, and Is social mobility enough?

5. Philosophy: Amongst other things, I’ve been interested in levels of analysis, emergence, reductionism and the social origins of human thinking. I’ve continued with the series called the Economy of Ideas with posts such as  Capital as methaphorWhat is Social capital?  and The global economy of care. I’ve also shared ideas from: Gina Rippon, Theodore Zeldin and Jean Jaures.

6. Culture: Reviews of the work of: Joyce Carol Oates, Primo Levi and poetry by Rabindranath Tagore and Abdellatif Laabi. The specific challenges and joys of London, including its history, inequality, educational needs and achievements remains a regular theme. There are now also quite a few posts with historical themes.

7. France, Corsica and posts in French: I’ve drawn on the work of French educators such as Philippe Meirieu (often via the excellent Café Pedagogique) to show how our colleagues in a very different system are addressing some of the challenges we also face. I continue to write the occasional post in French in a vain attempt to remain functional in my ‘mother’ tongue.

8. Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc): I can’t resist some promotion of the work we do and the success and progression of NewVIc students, for example Young people debate free speech in the House of Lords. Some of our wonderful alumni continue to contribute to the ‘My NewVIc story’ series and there is a series of parent guides to post-16 progression.

9. Politics: My general commitment is to policies which promote equality, democracy, solidarity, peace and sustainability and I have commented occasionally on issues such as the EU referendum,  xenophobia and the refugee crisis.

10. More personal pieces: such as Remembering John Playfair (April) and Four young men and one war (December).

I do hope you find something here that provokes or delights you. My overview of posts from 2015 can be read here and delving further back, this is what I blogged about in 2014.

About Eddie Playfair

Principal of Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) East London. Blogging about education, politics and culture in a personal capacity. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair
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