Reads of the Week #57

August has arrived and with it the countdown for the return to school begins. An interesting year awaits and I seem to be drawn this week to writing about goodbyes, reflections, competence and incompetence, and reality dawning.

First, on his goodbye from Morning Ireland, Here's Cathal MacCoille on leaving RTÉ, how early morning radio works and, or course, getting up in the middle of the night.

This piece by Amber Leventry is about a boy in her daughter's school who triggered a recollection of where she herself came from. Powerful. The Boy With the Coin-Filled Cellophane Cigarette Wrapper, and Me.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect, the illusion of competence, will be familiar to many readers, even if the label wasn't in your vocabulary. Here's Kate Fehlhaber for Aeon.

This piece, and pictorial on the Ghost Villages of Newfoundland describes how a government resettlement program cleared fishing villages over the decades after WWII. Reminded me of a trip to the Blasket Centre a couple of years ago. It's by Luke Spencer for Atlas Obscura.

This is a great topic for a podcast: The Irish Passport explores the difference between what people think they know about Ireland and where the truth lies. This series is my podcast find of the summer.

This weeks picture is A View of the Square in the Kastel Looking Towards the Ramparts by Christen Købke which we saw in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh last Easter. Beautiful understatement rewards close inspecting.

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Reads of the Week #56

I’ve been going through old tweets this week, so some of these choices are from the past few months. I lament the change of ‘favourite’ to ‘like’ on twitter: something I favourite for future reading isn’t always something I like. So. Education, History, sport and swimming across New York City.

First Alex Quigley on why whole-school literacy programmes are doomed. Interesting reading given the rush to reconfigure Irish education to address a panic over PISA scores. I wrote about that here.

Geoff Barton is mentioned in my first choice and he wrote the second: Teachers , you’ve earned your right to a guilt-free holiday. No further explanation needed there!

This is a fascinating read from RTE about four Early Christian manuscripts recently restored at Trinity College Dublin: Meet the Ancestors of the Book of Kells.

This is a brilliant contextualisation of Conor McGregor in Irish sport by the always thought provoking Dave Hannigan: Race to the Bottom.

Dwight Garner got to attempt to recreate John Cheever’s short story The Swimmer (read it here) by swimming around New York City’s luxury hotel pools. Tough gig!

 

Podcast of the Week is The Trials of Dan and Dave from ESPN Films 30 for 30 about the Decathlon, advertising and ultimate redemption is fascinating.

Picture of the Week is Girl in Red Kimono by Georges Hendrik Breitner that I saw here first. Beautiful.

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Reads of the Week #55

A diverse mix of subjects caught my interest this week. Writing on politics, history, newspapers, the Beatles, and Brexit stood out, even though my week away from reading was dominated by the movies. I've seen seven films in the last ten days!

First pick this week is by Matt Hartman for the Awl. Against Personal Politics is about how strands of political activism have become about the advantage gained for the individual though they purport to be about the collective. There populism lies.

Hannah Jewell wrote this, 12 Historical Women Who Gave No Fucks, a while ago but it's a great read on how women have had to ignore the prevailing attitudes to make progress. Still do.

The amount of work Damian Shiels has done to illuminate the landscape of Irish involvement in the American Civil War is extraordinary. This story of Johanna Barry, an emigrant domestic in Ireland and America goes further and continues to see the pension records of those left behind to investigate their lives. Long many he continue.

Next is more history: these photos show the making of the New York Times, step by laborious step in 1942. What struck me was the number of Irish names and how so much of this kind of work is gone. Compiled by Alex Q Arbuckle.

Bill Wyman ranked all 213 Beatles Songs from worst to best, argue with the order of you like but this is a history of the Beatles too. Great stuff.

There are 100,000 new Irish passport holders in Britain. As the Brexit crisis deepens Mary Bourke wants to give you a guide to what's expected of you. Hillarious!

Podcast of the week is the first episode in the very good Irish Passport series. It's on the Irish border and it's an excellent place to start with Irish history and politics.

Picture of the week I got here, it's called the Love Letter, I think and it's by Nakajima Kiyoshi.

Reads of the Week #54

We were away in Spain, or Catalunya to be exact and a bit political, so this is the best of  the what I’ve read over three full weeks. 

Two pieces on holidays struck me over the last few days. The first is by Heidi Stevens, a favourite writer. She picks out the good with the bad of every family holiday here with honesty and necessary humour. Hilary Fannin’s piece is about some of the same summer things, that time of year that memory always marks as the good old days, but with a glance back and forward to children and grandparents to provide us with some perspective on aging. 

This account of the tragic aftermath of the 1916 Rising for Thomas MacDonagh’s family by Ronan McGreevy reminds us that the after effects of the Rising on the families of the executed are little discussed.  

The anniversary of the signing of the Versailles Treaty brought me to reading this amazingly detailed New York Times piece from the time

Two podcasts this time the first is from Radiolab on how Henrietta Lacks changed modern science and, eventually, her family’s understanding of itself; and from BBC Radio a look at She Moved Through The Fair, an episode of the brilliant SoulMusic series.
From Atlas Obscura how the Great Hanoi Rat Massacre of 1902 did not go as planned, obscure but fascinating history. 
And finally, Sonny on the Causeway, kinda. 

Reads of the Week #53

This week, the week the State Exams finished for 2017, also marked the finishing of my school work. I manage the Book Rental Scheme in our school and that means waiting until late June to stock take and look at the order for next year. It’s an opportunity for listening to radio while I work and for finding reading material that distract me from textbooks. 
Earlier in the week I read a piece by Michael O’Loughlin to mark Bloomsday in the Irish Times on James Joyce as a European. I liked this line in particular ‘There are few other nations whose foundation myth is based on the notion that we’re not actually from around here.’



Last week Fintan O’Toole won the Orwell Prize for his coverage of Brexit and in this article for the New York Times, he deftly puts British turmoil in an Irish context: perhaps some of us in Ireland can be allowed a moment of schadenfreude as we look across the sea and ask… the question the English so often asked about us: Are the English fit for self-government?



For Fathers Day, Esquire published this moving piece by Tyler Coates on his father’s voice which is moving and real: The last remaining evidence of my father’s voice, the final thing that roots him and his existence in my brain, will eventually cease to exist–just like VHS tapes, and the accent he spoke with, and my memories of him, too.



To my friends’ baby girl: I hope you grow up to be Wonder Woman by Heidi Stevens is essential reading for anyone with a daughter. [You were born] the same week a female superhero (finally!) started kicking butt at the box office… a signal of our fondest hope for you: that you grow up knowing you can choose your own path and fight your own battles and change the world.



Here, Pasi Sahlberg reckons we should be concentrating on ‘small data’ to improve education, ‘small data’ emerges from the notion that in a world that is increasingly governed by binary digits and cold statistics, we need information that helps us to understand better those aspects of teaching and learning that are invisible or not easily measurable. 



Organising Teaching: Developing the Power of the Profession from Howard Stevenson and Nina Bascia has seven challenges for teacher unions to reorganise and it is essential reading for teacher trade unionists. 

Podcast of the week is the conversation between Tom Sleigh and Paul Muldoon about Seamus Heaney’s In the Attic and Tom Sleigh’s own The Fox On the New Yorker Poetry Podcast, which, mainly due to Paul Muldoon’s knowledge and geniality is a always a treat. 

And finally, this weeks picture of the week is of  Ballinaboy, County Galway, Ireland, 1965 by Edwin Smith which I found on twitter from Anne Mortier. Beautiful landscape, ominous skies, homestead in between, the perfect vision of Ireland. 

Reads of the Week #52

Reads of the week is back! I took fifteen months or so off mainly to write about the ASTI and education in general but there is time now to start curating and recommending things you may have missed over the last week. (Actually I’ve cheated this week and gone back two weeks). 
First there’s local (for me) history of boys who chose to fight in World War One rather than stay in Clonmel Borstal, the only such Irish institution outside Dublin. Seventy of the more than fourhundred who went to war died. Great work by Conor Reidy.  

Next is some more local-ish history.  Colm Wallace has completed a study of murdered Free State Gardaí from 1922 to 1949 and this is the story of the first, killed in Mullinahone. 

My Family’s Slave is a  piece by Alex Tizon, who, sadly, died in recent months. It’s about a woman who lived with with his family from before he was born and long after she needed to. And was never properly paid. It hurts to read but his journey to do Lola justice in the end is  powerful. 

From prose to fiction, but not too far a journey: to Alexie Sherman‘s Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest, a short story about a motel cleaner that gets to you by describing a life of seemingly banality in hugely human detail.

Podcast of the week is on Manzanar the Workd War 2 camp for Japanese-Americans, now designated a National Historical Site. Interesting discussion on whether the camp was an internment or concentration camp. I listen to a lot of podcasts/radio (50 hours this week is a record [yes I keep track!]) this one stayed got to me. The quiet dignity mixed with activism and the pursuit of justice are moving. 99 percent invisible have dozens of podcasts like this 

Not a great title but the idea that we raise our girls to fight stereotypes and pursue their dreams, but don’t do the same for our boys is worth considering. 

This is the best video essay on film I’ve seen in a while The Legacy of Paranoid Thrillers.  

Fintan O’Toole won the Orwell Prize for his writing on Brexit Britain: The End of a Fantasy for the New York Review of Books is a good place to start reading his work.  (@fotoole for @nybooks)

This is a very good accounting of where the ASTI was, is and might be heading by Katherine Donnelly. 

One more history story to finish about how Mike McTigue took on ‘the Battling Siki‘ during the Civil Wat to become a world Champion. 

The picture with this post is Blue Horses (1911) by Franz Marc, a German artist who was killed in World War One. We went to an exhibition of his work in Madrid in 2008 with Child One and brought home a stuffed red horse we christened Frank. Child Three sleeps with it now. 

Sign the petition for a Special ASTI Convention

The news is out. A group of rebels has decided to take on the empire. With only old fashioned weapons and their own chutzpah they have shaken the authority’s foundations.

No this isn’t the plot of Star Wars VIII, but the latest in another ongoing saga, the Implosion of the ASTI. 

Some ASTI members have decide to read the rules and found rule 67. 

The rule is very clear: if members wish there to be a Special Convention they need only sign up in sufficient number to call on the General Secretary to convene such a Convention. 

Why is this necessary? Every single member of the ASTI is worse off because of this dispute. I’ve written about this before. Hundreds are leaving the ASTI. The time is now to discuss the present and future of the ASTI and this Special Convention is not intended to overturn a ballot, it is to create room for the ASTI to re-engage and seek a better deal for our members. 
The statement issued by the President (on the ASTI website), I imagine is an honest misreading of the rule, seeming to imply that a Special Convention needs the approval of ‘the Officers of the union’. It doesn’t. The statement further questions the letter’s validity because ‘it is not sent to all members’. To remedy that HERE’S A LINK TO THE PETITION. (Print it off, sign it with your colleagues and return it to one of the signatories)

Furthermore, annual Convention may have the power to discuss the motion the petition asks for, but it was not discussed. A motion to allow for it to be debated was defeated, the motion itself was never put to the floor. (And by the way, further reading of Rule 67, pictured above, reveals that a properly called Special Convention has the same decision making power as Annual Convention.)

The fact that this motion has been tried at Convention, CEC and Standing Committee further proves how out of sync those bodies are with those signing the petition in large numbers.

The President further asserts that the ‘motion attempts to overturn a national ballot where a majority…rejected the November proposals’. It does no such thing. It asks for a Special Convention to be called to discuss suspending industrial action in the light of upcoming negotiations on pay. It is silent on the November proposals. 
A cynic might conclude that discussion is not allowed in the ASTI. Hannah Arendt wrote: ‘there are no dangerous thoughts. Thinking itself is dangerous’. Even the thought of holding a view contrary to the orthodoxy of the ASTI leadership seems to be unpalatable to those leaders. 

In his statement the President finally acknowledges that the call for a Special Convention is ‘within the rules’. So to act democratically has now become an undemocratic act? Never mind Orwell, this is Kafkaesque in its logic.
So instead let the embattled and beleaguered members of the ASTI decide for themselves. 

Let them be heard. 

Teacher voices. 
Fintan O’Mahony

CEC member 2003-16, 2017-

Standing Committee 2011-16

ASTI member since 1993

Responses/comments welcome as always

twitter: @levdavidovic