Author Archives: Eddie Playfair

About Eddie Playfair

I am a Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC) having previously been a college principal for 16 years and a teacher before that. I live in East London and I blog in a personal capacity about education and culture. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair

“You either bend the arc or it bends you”

‘Attack Surface’ by Cory Doctorow. ‘Attack Surface‘ (2020) is a gripping action-packed story of oppression and resistance with plenty of insights into the potential of new technologies and big data. It is also a powerful manifesto for the necessity of … Continue reading

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A manifesto to end educational inequality?

The challenge We urgently need to address inequality and the human damage it causes, in education and across society. So, any programme with the aim of ‘eliminating educational inequality’ merits serious consideration. The eleven proposals in the Teach First ‘manifesto … Continue reading

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‘Light Perpetual’ by Francis Spufford

‘Light Perpetual’ is a wonderful celebration of life and love. It opens with some extraordinary time-stretching to describe the impact of a split-second destructive event in wartime. Then time is shrunk and stretched repeatedly in order to follow the ‘lost’ … Continue reading

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Reading bell hooks.

‘Teaching to Transgress’ ‘Teaching to Transgress’ is as fresh and powerful in 2021 as when it was first published in 1994. Its messages about teaching as discovery, resistance and liberation are as vital today as ever. Reading bell hooks is … Continue reading

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Zola’s ‘La Curée’ and the corruption of desire.

Rougon-Macquart #2 Emile Zola’s ‘La Curée’ (1872), translated as ‘The Kill’, is an extraordinary novel of unbridled appetites, material and sexual, and of the moral decay and rottenness of unfettered capitalism. It shares a setting and many common themes with … Continue reading

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Freire for today

What can we learn from reading Freire today? The work of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (1921-1997) was rooted in his adult literacy teaching among dispossessed and disempowered communities in Latin America and elsewhere and was influenced by both Marxism … Continue reading

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Seven ways to avoid a Frankenstein education.

Seven ways to avoid a Frankenstein education – Philippe Meirieu. The French educationalist, Philippe Meirieu, in his 1996 book ‘Frankenstein Pedagogue’ reviews popular accounts of attempts to fashion a person to a maker’s design. Such fictional person-making often proves futile … Continue reading

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Learning, earning and the death of human capital.

Is there a clear predictive relationship between the amount of education ‘received’, as measured by qualifications achieved, and future earnings? The idea is strongly held by many policymakers and it plays a part in the public debate about investment in … Continue reading

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‘Listen to this’.

There’s something to be said for being told to ‘listen to this’, ‘look at this’ or ‘read this’. An important aspect of any educational programme is presenting learners with something new or re-presenting something familiar in a new context. And … Continue reading

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‘The Ministry for the Future’ by Kim Stanley Robinson

Fiction can change the world and the didactic approach or the ‘novel of ideas’ can be compatible with good storytelling. Like any work of art, a work of fiction can change us as individuals and, through us, help to make … Continue reading

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Why the comprehensive college?

When we talk about education, we are talking about both the personal and the social – the ‘small’ and the ‘big’. As individuals, what we know and can do goes to the very heart of our identity. We are engaged … Continue reading

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Exam results – what just happened?

Most years, the national drama of A Level and GCSE results days in England plays out in two distinct but related acts one week apart, focusing on the performance of the education system and the young people navigating their way … Continue reading

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Starting to rethink education.

There are different ways to think about life after a crisis. One is: ‘let’s try to get back to things as they were as quickly as possible’, another is: ‘we can’t go back to things as they were, this is … Continue reading

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Knowledge and education for the future.

Edgar Morin’s seven lessons for the future. When the French sociologist Edgar Morin was asked by UNESCO for his thoughts on education for the future, he organised his proposals around seven key aspects of human knowledge and understanding. In his … Continue reading

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England’s unexpected exam revolution.

One consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic is that we are embarking on an extraordinary national experiment in the way young people achieve their exam grades in England; switching from a heavy reliance on externally set and marked written exams towards … Continue reading

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