Open Thinkering


Tag: BBC News

Is Michael Gove systematically dismantling English state education?

Would you trust this man with your kids?

Is Michael Gove systematically dismantling state education in England?

I’m not sure.

To believe so presumes competence, intention and strategy on his part. Most of what I observe is an ill-informed sociopath flapping about at seemingly-random educational targets.

See what you think by looking at these BBC News stories since the beginning of the calendar year:

So no need to be a qualified teacher in England any more. This news, of course, was buried by being announced on a Friday in the school holidays, on the very day of the Olympic Games opening ceremony. Perhaps that was to avoid another strike by teachers like the one in November 2011?

From where I’m sitting, this looks like part of a wider move to centralise schooling in England. There were huge financial incentives for schools to become academies. Now, even if the money’s not there, there’s certainly political and other kinds of pressures bearing down on headteachers and governors.

Once English schools all become academies they’re outside of local authority control but under the direct control of Whitehall. Gove may bleat that academies have powers to do this or that, but when there’s no buffer between the headteacher and the all-powerful politician in control of the money, there’s no real contest.

Michael Gove is the most power-hungry, dangerously reactionary, and misguided millionaire Secretary of State for Education we’ve had a for a long time. He proposes yachts for over-privileged, taxpayer-funded families and gives out religious texts inscribed with his name. Meanwhile extra cash for the most deprived boroughs is turned down and, in the midst of one of the most sustained attacks on the profession in living memory, teachers are expected to roll over and accept performance-related pay.

Who will rid us of this troublesome beast?

Image CC BY-NC staticgirl

Is now a good time to get an iPad?

There’s a website I check every morning after a quick scan of my emails and Twitter @’s and DMs. Yep, before I even find out if the world’s still there (via BBC News or, more likely, on our touchscreen kitchen PC) I head over to Techmeme. If you haven’t seen it before, go and have a look now. We’ll wait for you. 😉

This morning I woke up to find an interesting juxtaposition of stories relating to the Apple iPad. Notwithstanding rumours of a 7-inch iPad in the works (hastily dismissed by John Gruber) the following couple of stories would make it seem like now is the time to get yourself an iPad:

What does this mean in practice? The ability to play almost any kind of media on the iPad, along with the long-awaited (potentially ‘killer app’) fully-fledged Google Docs.


But wait! What about the iPad naysayers? Those who say that it’s not neutral and that it’s only good for two things? My reply: no technology is neutral, nor is the language we use to describe things. There is no purely objective view/standpoint from which to judge anything. And as for the iPad only being good for two things? See above. 😉

A more salient point might be that this is v1 of the iPad. Although it marks almost a paradigm shift in computing, think of the original iPhone in comparison with what came after. Getting an iPad now, only for v2 with a ‘retina display’ and a front-facing camera to be launched after Christmas would be frustrating to say the least…

Some Friday fun!

A few things that have kept me smiling over the last few days…

1. Snow

There’s been snow on the ground here in Northumberland since before my birthday (December 22nd). It’s several inches deep now and it’s snowing more as I type this. Suffice to say, the whole world around here has ground to a halt. BBC News have a wonderful video of a helicopter ride over Yorkshire (where I used to live) and Northumberland. Unfortunately I can’t embed it, so you’ll have to click through:

2. Everything I have

Via swissmiss (a great design-focused blog to subscribe to, if you don’t already) comes one man’s visual record of everything he has:

It reminds me of the 100 things page Leo Babauta (he of Zen Habits fame) keeps updated on his other blog, He took up Dave Bruno’s challengeto limit himself to 100 personal items. Noble.

3.  Man sleeps in suburban igloo.

CC BY Steven Roberge (not the actual igloo!)

The aforementioned snow situation in England at the moment necessitates people to actually talk to their neighbours. Amazing, but true. David Munt, 28, from Hertfordshire went one step further and played in the snow with some of the children on his street without accusations of being a paedophile. Also amazing (given the current climate).

They built an igloo together and he promised he would sleep in it. He did. The world marvelled. (via