Category Archives: Reviews

‘What if?’ – dystopias in fiction.

Fictional dystopias use the power of ‘what if?’ to change something or extrapolate particular social or technological trends and imagine the impact on people’s lives. The best ones are also good stories, well told, about people; their hopes, fears, feelings … Continue reading

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More fictional dystopias

Reading Dystopias offered an introduction to the genre of dystopian fiction through 4 classic dystopian novels. Here are four more which are also well worth reading. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953) [211 pages] Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which … Continue reading

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A 2016 guide to this blog.

I’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 … Continue reading

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Theodore Zeldin on ‘what is worth knowing?’

What is worth knowing? It’s a good question, given how much there is to know and the impossibility of knowing more than a tiny fraction of the total. Theodore Zeldin’s latest collection of essays, ‘The hidden pleasures of life’ (Quercus, 2015) … Continue reading

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Instinct, heart and reason – Daniel Pennac on the refugee crisis.

The popular French writer and teacher Daniel Pennac, author of Chagrin d’école (translated as School Blues) and Les droits du lecteur (The Rights of the Reader) amongst others, has written a powerful essay on the refugee crisis for a book … Continue reading

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Primo Levi on work and education

In his wonderful La chiave a stella (The Wrench) published in 1978, Primo Levi shares with us an exchange of stories told by Faussone, the itinerant Piedmontese rigger, and a narrator who, like Levi himself, is an industrial chemist at the point … Continue reading

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Thinking students and student research.

In his excellent book Think Again (2012), John Taylor makes a strong case for putting philosophy at the centre of our teaching in order to develop students’ ability to think. As he says in his introduction: “Education should be all about … Continue reading

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‘Carthage’ by Joyce Carol Oates.

Joyce Carol Oates’ brilliant novel ‘Carthage’ carries the reader along on a compelling looping, zig-zag narrative which starts and finishes in the heart of a sympathetic comfortably-off family in the small upstate New York town of Carthage. Along the way, … Continue reading

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Sebald in Corsica: ‘Campo Santo’.

Campo Santo is one of four short pieces with Corsican settings in W.G. Sebald’s collection given the same title. These were fragments for a book about Corsica which remained unfinished at his untimely death in a road accident in 2001. Campo Santo … Continue reading

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Hadrian, the enlightened pre-enlightenment leader?

Marguerite Yourcenar’s wonderful novel Memoirs of Hadrian takes the form of a personal memoir written for the future Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius by the emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE) as he faces death. The book is a brilliant portrayal of a leader who … Continue reading

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The outstanding lesson

We were lucky enough to have Harriet Harper deliver a NewVIc lecture at Newham Sixth Form College on 14th October. Harriet is a former HMI and now helps to train teachers for the post-compulsory sector. We were delighted to be … Continue reading

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Tamsin Oglesby’s ‘Future Conditional’

When a play is dismissed by the Daily Mail as ‘lefty tosh’ it’s probably going to be worth seeing. I enjoyed Tamsin Oglesby’s polemical ‘Future Conditional’ which was full of debate and far from one-sided. This pacey ensemble piece which … Continue reading

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What is powerful knowledge?

In Knowledge and the Future School (2014) the sociologist of education Michael Young proposes a ‘return to knowledge’ following what he regards as the ‘turn away from knowledge’ taken by some progressives including Young himself in his earlier work. This … Continue reading

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Keri Facer and the future-building school

In her brilliant book Learning Futures – Education, technology and social change (2011) Professor Keri Facer suggests that we should be creating what she calls future-building schools rather than future-proof schools based on equipping young people to compete in the global economy. Keri … Continue reading

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‘Not for Profit’ by Martha Nussbaum

In Not for Profit (2010), the U.S. philosopher and academic Martha Nussbaum argues that we are in the midst of a global crisis in education. Why? Because we are too willing to neglect the skills we need to keep democracy … Continue reading

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