“[educationl is in fact one of the most effective means of perpetuating the existing social pattern, as it both provides an apparent justification for social inequalities and gives recognition to the cultural heritage, that is, to a social gift treated as a natural one.” (Bourdieu, 1974, p. 32) Education maintains inequality. Bourdieu argues that in … More Whose Cultural Capital?
There has been a stormzy brewing for some time about curriculum content. The National curriculum says we ought to teach ‘the best’, I don’t agree, we each have our subjective tastes and sensibilities, I think it is better to teach children to enter into the conversation about what the best might be. That is not … More Stormzy or Mozart, Who Knows?
Describing our viewpoints on the world, Mary Midgley used the analogy of an aquarium with a number of murky windows through which people could peer. If we think of the aquarium as a whole as ‘reality and truth’ and each window being a perspective through which we can gaze upon that reality, we can begin … More Cultural Mobility
Initially appealing, at least to me, the idea of cultural capital has begun to worry me. Though not coined by someone who admitted to being a Marxist, Pierre Bourdieu did draw quite heavily on Marxist thinking when it came to expounding his thesis. It is about power. Simply put, if you speak posh, go on … More Some Problems with Cultural Capital and Social Mobility
The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values. – William Ralph Inge “The Training of the Reason” Do we know that torturing or killing a person for entertainment is wrong? Or is it that we just find it unpalatable? Is it merely guesswork on our part, is truth, outside of … More On A Knowledge-Rich Curriculum
“In the popular imagination,” writes Tim Blanning in his wonderful book ‘The Romantic Revolution’, “Beethoven was the romantic hero par excellence: the lonely, afflicted, uncompromising, utterly original genius, ‘a man who treated God as an equal’…” This vision of creative minds echoes down the centuries. The tortured artists in their garret, often poor, wearing black, … More Creativity and Collaboration
In her thoughtful essay ‘The Crisis in Education’, Hannah Arendt addresses the difficulty of teaching in the modern world. If you go into teaching with the sole purpose of making a real difference, changing the world one child at a time, you might end up doing nothing of the sort. A revolutionary or radical attitude … More The Need for a Progressive Attitude
Every subject is different, it has its own rhythms and constraints around which a positive classroom culture can be created. Getting changed for PE, putting on lab coats, getting out exercise books and pens, all these seemingly mundane rituals are an essential part of creating a positive working atmosphere. In the drama room I have … More Creating a Classroom Culture: The ‘Centre’
In these days of very little time or space on a timetable it is still heartening to know that some schools are trying to make a space where children can be taught in a way that celebrates education for its own sake. Paradoxically this approach might have benefits beyond education, as Stefan Collini puts it: … More History of Thought
Here are the slides in PDF format from my talk at the Telegraph Festival of Education at Wellington College on 22nd June 2017: You Can’t Teach The Best That Has Been Thought and Said