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

Overcoming the barriers to learning

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at WorldSkills November 2021 These are a few thoughts about how teachers can help learners overcome some of the barriers to their learning. This is not a comprehensive ‘how-to’ guide or a list of tips to … Continue reading

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Finding our voice in a crisis.

Blogging in the 2020s. It can be hard to write in a time of crisis. What can we possibly say that could be of any use to anyone? But when things are this bad, it’s also hard not to write. … Continue reading

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Stupid gene.

Simplex and Sapiens are discussing human stupidity. Simplex: We agree that people can do some pretty stupid things, yes? Sapiens: Of course. Simplex: And that some people have a tendency to do stupid things more often… Sapiens: I guess… Simplex: … Continue reading

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Learning from Utopia

What is the function of alternative political and economic systems, whether actually existing or imaginary? Is it to offer hope that change is possible, or at least to provide some perspective on our own way of life?
Draws on ‘The Dispossessed’ by Ursula Le Guin. Continue reading

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Resisting classification

The way we use categories doesn’t do justice to the multi-layered complexity of the world. It’s often a short cut to sweeping assumptions and flawed policy. Continue reading

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‘Bewilderment’ by Richard Powers

Bewilderment is an entirely rational response to what we are collectively doing to our planet. Confronted by the injustices, dysfunction and unsustainability of the world we’ve created, how can we not react with bewilderment? This wonderful novel is both an … Continue reading

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“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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