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

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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Tsitsi Dangarembga’s ‘Nervous Conditions’.

The personal is political, and this wonderful book is both entirely personal and deeply political. Nervous Conditions (1988) is the story of Tambudzai, a young woman growing up in rural Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia) in the late 1960’s, told … Continue reading

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Rebecca Solnit on Hope.

In a crisis, it is easy to despair. ‘Don’t mourn, organise!’ is a good mantra in such situations. Mourning has its place, but our response should be neither blind despair nor blind hope. We need to understand the objective reality … Continue reading

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In praise of lightness – Calvino’s Leggerezza.

The Italian writer, Italo Calvino, was invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University in 1985 but died before he was able to deliver them. Luckily, we have the text of 5 of these 6 planned lectures … Continue reading

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An A-Z for a world which has to change.

In the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic which threatens many lives, we need to remember that this is just one of several global crises we face which will change our world in profound ways. All these challenges require us … Continue reading

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Decarbonising education.

The climate emergency is a global reality and the large scale catastrophic weather events we face on a regular basis remind us that it is affecting us in the here and now, while also threatening far more serious impacts in … Continue reading

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The mighty pencil

The mighty pencil It’s just a pencil Making a mark in a specific place On a specific piece of paper On a specific day. It only takes a second or two, No time at all. Such a simple thing. But … Continue reading

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Knowledge-rich and skills-rich

We can learn a lot from the telly. Skills competitions like ‘Bake Off’ and ‘Strictly’ and quiz shows like ‘University Challenge’ and ‘Mastermind’ are among the most popular programmes on TV. These shows fall into two main camps, reflecting a … Continue reading

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‘Unsheltered’ by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s novels are always fascinating and rewarding and her latest, Unsheltered (2019) is no exception. We follow two stories over a hundred years apart and set in the same location; Vineland, New Jersey, a town originally established as a … Continue reading

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‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers.

Richard Powers is an extraordinary writer. If you’ve not yet discovered his novels, I strongly recommend them. He tackles big ideas which concern all of us while at the same time telling compelling stories about complex and conflicted characters who … Continue reading

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Familiale (Jacques Prévert)

The mother is knitting The son is fighting She thinks it quite natural the mother And the father what is he doing the father? He’s doing business His wife is knitting His son is fighting He’s doing business He thinks … Continue reading

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