Reads of the Week #50: #1916Rising Special


This is pretty momentous for me. I’ve done fifty of these posts now so I wanted to mark that in some way: collecting the best (so far) of the things I’ve read about the 1916 Rising and its commemoration was fitting. Thanks for the many, many hundreds of clicks the tweets, the Facebook posts and the blogposts get, and a special thanks to the hundreds of writers featured. Here’s to the next fifty! 

First Conor O’Malley on The Secret Meeting that set the date Rising.  
Next the Digital Repository of Ireland has an exhibition on ‘Women and the Rising’

This is Damian Shields on the Swede and the Finn who fought in the GPO

John Dorney next  on the meaning of the Easter Rising centenary
The story of the tricolour flag from Jacob’s Biscuit Factory from Brenda Malone. 

Next Felix Larkin on FX Martin’s  view of the ‘altruistic evil’ of the Rising.

Irish artist Fergal McCarthy’s playful comc strip A Country Is Born

How two lawyers ended up on opposing sides in 1916 from Conor Gallagher. 

Margaret Skinnider’s 1916 autobiographical story: Doing my bit for Ireland

“While Dublin was reproducing its squalid version of the Paris Commune….”

Donal Fallon on The Come Here to Me blog on the newspapers’ reaction to the Rising: “While Dublin was reproducing its squalid version of Paris Commune..

A piece on the Proclamation of the Irish Republic’s typography and construction

And finally, another piece by Brenda Malone, this time on Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, insane in Dublin 1916? 
A Storify collection of the original tweets is here

Image above is taken on St. Stephen’s Green, on Easter Monday, 1916, showing Dr. Edmund J. McWeeney reading the Proclamation. 

Reads of the Week #49


I seem to have misplaced the woman I know I must have been. I’m writing this here as I don’t want to forget this later–to gloss over it. What gets lost and found is important: Mary Ann Reilly: Slice of Life: Lost/Loss

The rules are clear: on escalators, you stand on the right and walk on the left. So why did the London Underground ask grumpy commuters to stand on both sides? And could it help avert a looming congestion crisis? The tube at a standstill

There are people who still blame Ted Hughes for the suicide of his wife Sylvia Plath: Stephanie Johnson reviews Sir Jonathan Bate’s biography of Ted Hughes, a forensic account of his doomed marriage to poet Sylvia Plath

From megastars who don’t want a media scrum to those who just don’t want their last days tainted, there can be many reasons for keeping a fatal diagnosis secret – but for those left behind, it can make a death even harder to bear. 

I believe that those who care the most are actually the ones that do the difficult things rather than the ones that make a public song and dance about how sorry they feel for certain children. Why I haven’t got time to wallow in emotion from The Quirky Teacher. 

We should be wary of taking a school culture off the shelf, or simply buying in products that have worked in shiny schools down the road because they promise to solve and satisfy us: Alex Quigley on The Importance of School Culture.

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Reads of the Week #48


This week there are things to contemplate like:

the power of Facebook (Cass R. Sunstein), 

living a life alongside illness brilliant piece by Ruth Fitzmaurice), 

Gaelic Catholic nationalism and corporal punishment (Sean O’Donnell), 

Mother Teresa’s squalid legacy (Donal MacIntyre), 

Shakespeare and parenting (Ron Charles), and 

the life and poetry of Thomas Kinsella (Adrienne Leavy).

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Reads of the Week #47


First post in this series for 2016 has a New Year feel: things to read, Christmas memories, reflections on the year gone by, the best photos of 2015 and the start of a new sporting year. 

Here are 50 Great 21st Century Novels For 6th Formers

These are the books James Wood of the New Yorker loved in 2015

Harper Lee’s Christmas in New York

This is Katie Coyle’s year in reading and grief
Two sets of photos: 2015 in photos from the White House, and the New York Times best photos of 2015

And finally two great sporting reads: Paul Rouse on the glorious disease called Hope for GAA players, and PM O’Sullivan’s interview with Shane McGrath is powerful too.

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For teachers. For a change.


A year ago, I asked ASTI members to support me in seeking election to the office of Vice-President. I promised then to reinvigorate the ASTI with ideas, action and solidarity between teachers. I wanted to draw strength from our members and drive the ASTI forward. Since the last election, things have become more fraught for the ASTI: the strong action we took on Junior Cycle reform has faded away, we have voted to reject proposals on pay, the union appears divided and unable to act. These headline concerns have prevented us from dealing with the issues of teacher welfare, of multiple pay scales and of improving the structures and reach of our union. Action is required to tackle these crucial problems and move on to a more secure teaching profession.

In recent ballots on critical issues, up to two thirds of our members did not vote. We should regard this as a warning. There is no doubt that the ASTI still holds the attention of its members, days on the picket line and visiting schools proved that when asked to act members respond. I know the members are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false promises and political naivety. But the gap between members and our leaders seems to have grown. How many teachers in schools know the way the ASTI is structured? How many are in touch with the leadership? The ASTI needs visible and dynamic figures to represent the union in public.The confidence that we have always had as a profession shouldn’t be something we celebrate just at Convention every year, but something that guides us in our development as a union every day. Confidence in the ASTI supports everything else: it allows us to progress, to support each other, to give aid to the weakest among us. If teachers are losing that faith as evidence by poor turnouts in ballots, we have to act to change. We know the strength of our numbers. We had the support of the public when we remained strong on Junior Cycle reform. But we should act to regain our unity of purpose. We are the heirs of teachers who survived warnings, threats, and vitriol every bit as difficult as those that challenge us now. Those ASTI members, strong men and women, shaped our union, our education system. It is time we became a generation worthy of taking their union on to the next step, and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of the ASTI. To restore the faith and confidence of members in the ASTI, I ask members to support me again for Vice President.

If we have faith in our union’s relationship with its members, faith in our unions structures, and faith in the future of the ASTI, nothing needs to change. If we believe work has to be done to be restore that relationship between teachers and the ASTI, that work has to be done to improve our union, or to restore our vision of Irish education, our course is in our hands. Restoring the faith and confidence the ASTI should enjoy is the most important task we face. It is the challenge of this generation of ASTI members. To answer that challenge though action I want To lead the ASTI.

We are at a crossroads. One road ensures self-interest and fragmentation. It promises internal and external conflict, chaos, immobility. Failure. All the work of our predecessors, all the lessons we have learned point us towards the path of common purpose and the restoration of what the ASTI stands for: teachers. I do not promise you that reinvigorating the ASTI will be achieved without great effort, but in doing this work I will tell you the truth, sometimes that will be easy to hear, sometimes it won’t. I do not promise a quick way out of our problems on Junior Cycle or Lansdowne Road, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will represent the ASTI with fairness and honesty in whatever direction our struggle brings us. Above all, I will act. I will travel to as many schools as possible, to listen to teachers in their staffrooms. They will help us to develop a new agenda for the ASTI, I will listen to them and I will act. We will act together. I make these promises to you and I intend to keep them. 
Our greatest resources are ASTI teachers, ASTI values, and a restored ASTI confidence. 

I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Let us commit ourselves together to a renewed ASTI. Acting together, we cannot fail. 
For teachers.

For a change.

About me 

Facebook: Elect Fintan

Twitter: @levdavidovic

Reads of the Week #46


Before a Christmas break, and 270 articles later, this week’s articles cover most of my favourite topics: teaching, reading, film, language, thinking and history. 

Happy Christmas, and most importantly a beautiful new year.

Andy Tharby: It never ceases to amaze me that despite my methodical, largely traditional approach to classroom teaching, my students learn such different things.

100 Novels All Kids Should Read Before Leaving High School from the always brilliant

Years from now, there will be little question as to his place in film history – a prominent seat at the grownups’ table, with a place card highlighting his run of sixteen films from 1977 to 1992, one of the greatest streaks in the history of American cinema. Woody Allen at eighty by Jonathan Kirshner.

It started with a woman giving birth. As the doctor told her to push-push-push! She screamed in pain and yelled a blast of obscenities. Her husband watched, fascinated. This woman could really cuss. “Is this normal?” he asked the midwife, half-joking. “Don’t be embarrassed. It’s a perfectly normal part of giving birth,” the midwife told him. This got him thinking: Is There a Biological Purpose for Profanity? (Jeff Wilser)

Trying to identify and inoculate yourself against bad ideas is always worthwhile, but trying to set others strait is a thankless, task. And maybe a pointless one too. So, David Didau asks, when is it worth arguing about bad ideas?

One of the greatest minds in 20th Century statistics was not a scholar. He brewed beer. Daniel Kopf on The Guinness Brewer Who Revolutionized Statistics.

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Reads of the Week #45


More great writing, an extract from each should whet your appetite. (I reckon that’s the first time I’ve written the word whet.)

How much thought and effort do you invest in making sure you look good, popular and happy on Facebook or Instagram, asks Michael Gonchar

Oliver Burkeman says young people today, along with their Snapchat and their selfies and their sexting, apparently engage in a practice known as “phubbing”. According to Sherry Turkle, the American sociologist of digital life, this involves maintaining eye contact with one person while text-messaging another.

How unusual is it for a gun owner to have two AR-15 assault rifles and 2,500 rounds of rifle ammunition—the “arsenal” police found in the possession of Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, asks John Weiner. 

Donal Fallon writes about a  funeral procession without a corpse: the Manchester Martyrs and Glasnevin Cemetery
When it comes to teaching poetry, Andy Tharby asks how much should I tell them and how much should I elicit from them?
As a child, Freya McClements had 16 library tickets

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