Reads of the Week #81

The midterm has arrived! Conscious as I am that teachers might have more time than usual to read in the week ahead, this week I give you two pieces to get you thinking: first Alex Quigley on reading and writing in this blogpost The Shape of Stories; and second Kenny Pieper, who regular readers here will know well by now, writing on the right and responsibility of teachers to be involved in real change in education, he’s writing about Scotland, but this blogpost has real resonance for Irish teachers too, perhaps teachers everywhere. On Brexit, that great crumbling of our regard for British democracy, in this article, Marina Hyde compares Teresa May to a Swansea City manager who has all the confidence that comes from being given the full support of the Board of Directors. She doesn’t stop there, and it isn’t all funny, but it is so right. Anika Burgess, writing for Atlas Obscura on the photography of Caitriona Dunnett on the secret tracks and trails that lead to Mass Rocks across Ireland is fascinating insight into Irish History, and beautifully illustrated with images of inaccessible but familiar places. Aidan Dunne writes here on Emil Nolde, an artist I’ve only recently discovered, and he shows the stillness of his painting is matched by the complications of his life.

My podcast choice this week this week is again from the RTE History Show: this time it covers significant and interesting anniversaries coming up in 2018. Very useful for updating the diaries of History teachers. This week’s cover image came from here.

Advertisements

Reads of the Week #80

It’s hard to believe that I’ve spent eighty weekends doing this exercise. Collecting writing I want to share more than in a single tweet has become a tradition: laptop out after dinner on Sunday, picking out the best, setting up the tweets and writing the blogpost. Always a pleasure. Writing is an exercise, reading the same, hoping never to get out of any of these habits.

Michael Harding on Marty Whelan, but as always saying things about so much more than a headline can encapsulate.

This piece by Jeremi Suri traces the history of the nuclear hotline, and of the the use of hotlines to diffuse conflict in general. History nerd alert.

 

A photo’s power is huge, this one has taken on a life beyond the moment it captures and it changed the course of the Vietnam War. Maggie Astor on Eddie Adams’ photo of Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing Nguyen Van Lem, in Saigon on February 1, 1968.

Brightening, by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, is an amazing new poetic take on Austin Clarke’s Planter’s Daughter which so many of us read and taught down the years from the Soundings Anthology.

Jennifer O’Connell has written so powerfully here, asking how much has really changed since the 1980s Ireland that drove so many women to the margins.

For the podcast of the week, here’s an RTE History Show interview on Alger Hiss with his son Tony who continues to believe in his father’s innocence. Human history colliding with world events.

 

And finally, for the coverage image I went here.

Reads of the Week #78

This week was full on so the things I read had to light up early on, it was a week for writing that grabbed my attention quickly and held it. Some extracts should explain why these made the cut.

Richard Cerutti hardly suspected that on Nov. 16, 1992, he was standing atop a discovery that could rewrite the opening chapter in the history of the New World.

An exraordinary account of Archaeology as bloodsport from Thomas Curwen.

How can leaders best ensure consistency within schools without it being a dictatorship? Does it have to come at the expense of autonomy in the classroom? Should it account for teacher personalities? How can accountability be effective without being personal or based on relationships? Should compliance to school policies be assessed?

Dawn Cox on consistency in schools.

When I was a child famous people on television were distant specks. Now I know it’s the other way about. I am the speck, as disposable as a bird clinging to an alder tree 20m from my window in a winter storm.

Michael Harding on the flu, and other things too.

Have you ever left a meeting, PLC, or any other professional development session wondering what the purpose of the time together was and still unclear about what is expected of you?  Unfortunately, you are not alone.

How we may prevent our own improvement from Katie Martin.

Podcast of the Week: Last year marked one hundred years since the first time Eamon de Valera was elected as a public representative, in the Clare By-Election of 1917. From his early life to his disputed legacy, we explore the long and remarkable career of the most dominant political figure of 20th century Ireland.

RTE History Show special on Eamon de Valera.

This week’s cover image is Landscape by Emil Nolde (1867-1956). I found it here.

 @DanielBrami1 & @CamilleStein

Reads of the Week #77

Christmas has come and gone, the reading goes on. This is a selection of the best things I read over the break, so it’s slightly longer than usual. Switching off the phone over Christmas for three days might not sound like a revolutionary act, but for me that’s extraordinary! So there’s plenty of interesting stuff still in the bank to share in the weeks to come.

 

First here’s a story about a basketball coach who can’t quit from Adam Zagoria. It struck a chord with me: teachers who have to suddenly stop on retirement must find themselves in a strange limbo sometimes.

 

This next piece is raw, honest and tragic. Mimi O’Donnell writes on the loss of her partner Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 

This piece by Jen Gann about her son is moving and frank while dealing with some of the issues the debate around the 8th Amendment will bring up in Ireland will bring up.

 

For a bit of fun head over to Instagram  to see Accidentally Wes Anderson which does the job of location spotter quite well for the next Anderson movie.

 

I loved this piece by Theo Dorgan about the place he came from. Home is so important, and so is remembering where we came from

 

Most of the education reading I did over Christmas I chose to challenge me. This post by Katie Martin did just that on collaboration and teachers supporting each other.

If we want to improve skills and knowledge and the application of them in our classrooms, we must move beyond telling people what to do and get into classrooms to help them problem solve, reflect, tweak, and learn together and collectively figure out how to move forward.
Improving our practice is always worth it.

 

This is just a beautiful essay on the triggers that set us off remembering someone who’s gone from Roy Hoffman. A Sister’s Nurturing, in Countless Home Haircuts

 

Two podcasts now, the first is on Suffragism from In our Time. Very apt for the year that we are entering because (some, not all) British, and, by association Irish women were given the franchise in 1918. Consistently brilliant programmes from the BBC here, by the way.

And the second is on the sounds our computers make  from Twenty Thousand Hertz. A fascinating look into what the noises our devices are making, where they came from and who designed them.

 

The cover image this week is one of my favourite pictures: Hunters in the Snow (Winter) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder which we were lucky enough to see about fourteen years ago in Vienna. I used it in school all the time. Some great conversations began there. I got it from the very cool Google Arts and Culture.

Reads of the Week #71

This week has been about the culmination of two months work with my amazing colleagues on what good History CPD looks like. And so far, so good. If I needed confirmation that teachers are special (I didn’t) I got it this week, and though we know there will be harder days, the openness and professionalism of those we met so far has been such a validation or my choice to move out of the classroom to support teachers in curricular reform. Truth be told, this whole blog has been the story of my move, post by post from outright scepticism to understanding that without engagement with professional development, teachers can’t improve their teaching. Denying them their right to the opportunity to collaborate, improve and acknowledge their current good practice is a poor way to lead them.

 

It should come as no surprise then that this week’s selection of things to read is all about education.

Geoff Barton on why pushing teachers out of the classroom has to stop.

But as a profession, we’ve not been good at rewarding great teachers for being just that – great teachers. Apart from system flirtations with initiatives like the “Advanced Skills Teacher”, “Excellent Teacher” and “Lead Practitioner” programmes, the dominant progression route has been to move into management. As a result, we take good teachers and expect them to teach less and to manage more.

Alison Peacock says hereTo teach and learn without limits is to place trust and empathy first, within a culture of high ambition for all. Essentially, if we believe that labelling children sets limits then we need to seize “transformability” as a means to see what might be possible, rather than focusing on a perceived deficit.

Successful people in education initiate, says George CourosThey innovate inside the box and do not let outside circumstances dictate their destiny. They are not waiting for the “next big idea” to find them, but go do what they can with what they have, to create the best experiences for the people they serve.

From Maria Popova, here’s ee cummings on art, life, and being unafraid to feelTo be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

Cara Giaimo on the paperbacks that soldiers carried into warThe first set was released in October of 1943. Each month for the next four years, crate after crate of books made their way to overseas soldiers, pretty much wherever they were. “They have been dropped by parachute to outpost forces on lonely Pacific islands; issued in huge lots to hospitals… and passed out to soldiers as they embarked on transports,” reporter Frank S. Adams wrote in 1944.

Some good History in my podcast of the week, from the RTE Doc on One series on the Siege of Jadotville which does justice to these heroes who were forgotten, but are now being recognised for their bravery.

And finally, picture of the week is from Sean Scully Irish painter. Found it here.

 

 

 

Reads of the Week #67

This busy week I had some hard choices to make, the long list, which I make on Saturday, had eleven things on it, including five podcasts.  Those are the good weeks, when you’ve read so much, and inspired by so many that the selection is high quality.

 

I regret that I never read Mark Mooney before finding this piece, My Last Byline which he wrote before dying of prostate cancer. The whole blog series is worth a read as an example of facing death with grace, humour and honesty, may he rest in peace.

Michael Cronin writes with such authority in The Dublin Review of Books on the intricacies of translating the many languages spoken in concentration camps into and out of German. The nuance of language, affecting directly the lives of prisoners. Our Language, Their Babble.

Through all of the coverage of the mess that is Brexit, Tony Connelly has provided excellent coverage and commentary. This is an extract from his new book on the subject, the fact that it deals only with the dairy trade across the border shows how deep the crisis could become.

The two podcasts I picked are interviews with inspirational Irish sportspeople. First Joy Neville, interviewed by Sean O’Rourke, about becoming one of the first women to referee a international men’s rugby match prompted a conversation with my own daughter about how impossible is nothing, great radio.

The second podcast is Jarlath Regan‘s interview with Paul McGrath. The honesty and decency of the man comes through in every answer he gives. It is one thing to be a hero in sport, but to be so humble afterwards about both his shortcomings and his successes is a mark of the man.

Finally, I love Robert Doisneau. This picture kept me going this week. Thanks again to Kultur Tava.

Reads of the Week #64

My thinking and doing are dominated these days by curricular change and reform, and reading about education on the one hand and trying to take of my wellbeing by having other things to distract me, entertain me, inform me.

On the nose for curricular change, this piece by Mags Amond on pushing our boundaries on CPD is right up my street. It’s about the ‘desire line’ that ‘you make the road as you go’ and it manages to be illuminating, brief and spirit raising all at the same time.

This brief quotation from this post from Mark Priestley says more than I could about the direction reform should take 

the question we should ask is not ‘what subjects do we teach?’, but instead ‘what does an educated person look like, what knowledge do they need to develop, and what means (including subjects-based provision) are best suited to achieving this?’

New breed of teachers; old breed of reaction.

An old friend of my reads of the week Anthony Wilson, writes here about the return to school:

I pass a colleague on the stairs, briefly stopping to say how my summer went, already feeling it recede at the speed of light. One more flight. My own office door. If the door is closed I am teaching or out, a notice on it says. If it is open, please feel free to come and say hello. It’s next to a poster of a poem I once wrote about my children, ‘I Try Not to Shout at Them’. Somewhere between my poem and the note next to it is my life. I turn the key and go in. Another year.

It almost made me want to go back…
Bob Vulfov wrote this piece which manages to be about history and be hilarious. How I wish I had this skill. The title says it all: As Your Doctor, I Am Protesting Removal of Your Tumor, I Don’t Want to Erase Your Medical History .

Podcast of the week is Second Captains: a week of  diverse interviews with Murad Mohammed, Aidan Regan and Dave Hannigan make a must listen podcast essential for both sport and politics. And every is getting Dave’s book (on an Irish childhood I also lived) for Christmas!

In that spirit, of the memories sport brings, I found myself in tears listening in the car to tributes to Jimmy Magee this week. This clip is a personal one, I know the cameraman, I was there, on a half day from school when Kelly reached Clonmel and even embarrassed myself in front of Sean at a parent teacher meeting once by trying to replay it for him from the point of view of my fourteen year old self. Thanks Jimmy.

It’s a long way to Tipperary, but it’s quicker with Sean Kelly in the saddle.

Picture of the week is Branches of an Almond Tree in Blossom by  Vincent van Gogh that I found here.