Read of the Week #88

From the week just gone, two topics have dominated my reading: politics in Britain, the Windrush scandal which intersects with Brexit so clearly for me, and the Referendum on May 25th on the removal/retention of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. Two reads each on those two dominate my choices there, I’m making no excuses for nailing my colours to the mast (both Brexit and the 8th Amendment were/are poor outcomes of public discourse). I’ve broken this post up with some humour and History, when political dust settles we should always have time to laugh and understand our History.

I’ve included the work of Donald McRae here before, and this piece from the Guardian combines several of my passions. An interview with Jürgen Klopp is always welcome reading for a Liverpool fan, but here Donald directs him into talking about Brexit, German politics and much else as only an expert journalist can. And this was before last week’s classic against Roma!

Taking that discussion a step further I was glad to find Kimiko de Freytas ‘harped my fear aright’ in this piece on the Windrush Scandal. The way the British government has treated it’s own citizens from the Commonwealth (or Empire as some would prefer it, I think) in an effort to scapegoat all immigrants does not augur well for the post-Brexit Britain.

Now for a moment of light relief. I’ve often turned to Patrick Freyne to make me laugh out loud in a room all by myself (the gold standard of excellent humour writing). Here he’s describing Francis Brennan, tv personality, though none of us really know know how or why, even Francis himself I think.

I’m picking two of the clearest pieces I’ve read on the Referendum. Both moved me to tears, both have I believe the ring of truth that comes from a position of authority. Chris Fitzpatrick is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, former Master of the Coombe and a university Professor. He warns of the danger of oversimplifying this so complicated issue, and urges the reader to think of the woman in the emergency room and the woman on her way to London. The second is by Caroline McCarthy who makes the clear case that providing the opportunity to chose is the best thing a Republic can do for its citizens. I’m voting Yes for the reason both Chris and Caroline so clearly outline. I’m voting Yes, decisions about so complex and at the same time human issues do not belong in as unyielding a document as a Constitution, but in laws set by our parliament.

Podcast of the Week sends us back to In Ireland in the revolutionary period. This History Ireland discussion on cinema as the newest mass media of the time is fascinating.

Finally, this potrait of Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso is the image of the week. I found it here.

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Reads of the Week #87

Seven more things to read, hear and see this week, some longer reads too, giving a chance to think and consider as we go.

Tim Don, Ironman and extraordinary human being, knocked from his bike in October 2017, crushing two C2 vertebrae vowed to run a 2:50 in the Boston Marathon on Monday. Some story from Lindsay Crouse.

He did it in 2:49 by the way

 

This is tough to read at times: Andras Forgach, Hungarian novelist found out his mother had been a communist informant who tried even to use their relationship to her spymasters’ advantage. Tim Adams on the echos of history in our world.

John McPhee on bears. That’s all you need to know.

When we look at the Windrush Scandal and the treatment of immigrants in Britain we can draw a direct line to Brexit. Again, history and the future linked, this time by Tanja Bueltmann.

 

This is something to give us hope: Carl O’Brien on Jialimey Vuong who wants to address the lack of diversity in teaching, by becoming a teacher.

 

Podcast of the Week is an interview with Declan Kiberd on Today with Sean O’Rourke. Just to hear the familiar voice of one of my most influential and engaging teachers is a treat.

This week’s image is from Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909). “Fishermen coming home”. I found it here.

Reads of the Week #84

This week I write to you from Dunmanway, Co. Cork. Being on the road has become part of my life now, seven months into my new job. The places we visit are as different from each other as is possible, but they have in common a desire to do their best for the teachers and learners that walk their halls every day. And (tortured segue alert) this group of articles I read, often in a snowbound Clonmel, are equally eclectic, and just as united in their ability to draw my interest.

First Mark Hilliard writes of the cruel life an unnecessary deaths in a Cavan orphanage 75 years ago. A welcome reminder of what our country used to be like.

Michael O’Loughlin provides us with a timely reminder of how the echo of the Holocaust is still to be found across Europe, as above perhaps the past isn’t as far away as we might like to think.

Sabrina Gasparrini reminds us here that the price of resisting the worst of the past is constantly keeping in mind the mistakes made before. What will Italy do next?

Now this piece by Joshua Rothman spoke to me, as a person who often stood at a perfectly functioning, expensive piece of technology which drove me around the bend when it broke down. Paper jams. Printers. Photocopiers. Read on.

Every teacher knows that feeling when the printer jams, well, it’s someones job to think about that jam, and try to eliminate it. This piece by @joshuarothman is a great read

For a little light distraction into the perfect and hillarious, here’s Larry David: No Way to Say Goodbye.

Podcast of the Week is a Moving Pictures episode from BBC World Service. Cathy Fitzgerald makes some beautiful radio, this piece on Men of the Docks by George Bellows is a perfect example. And Google Arts and Culture have provide a zoomable version of the painting.

Image of the Week is from Danish artist Peder Mørk Mønsted (1851-1941) which I found here. For the weather we’ve had.

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.

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 #72

The weeks fly by and with them the reading becomes more specialised, more focussed. Whether it’s a president or a teacher, a dying man or a lottery winner, the time of year tells us things are silently taking shape beneath the surface, and we have to make do with what we can.

We’re lucky to have a President who is so versed and interested in History, this speech from his recent visit to Australia on the Famine and the scattering of the Irish is powerful.

This piece by Matt Bencke broke my heart.

Here, John Thomsett sets out how schools should approach professional development: it’s a primer for those of us in this area of education and for school leaders too.

Podcast of the week is 99% Invisible‘s account of how El Gordo, the lottery in Spain, is both a thing of beauty and a strange ritual.

And the cover image this week is from Jo. I found it here.

Have a great week everyone.

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.