I love social media. This will surprise no one with the misfortune to follow me. If they ever taxed it, I'd be pawning my kidneys on the Dark Web for screen time. I also love free speech, debate, and the potential for teaching to re-energise itself from within, from the ground up by international and powerful conversations you can have online. I like being able to criticise things. I also like suggestions about what to do next. I like dragon slaying and myth busting, even if I’m the dragon. It might be painful, but like going to the gym, you never regret it afterwards.

Is Twitter the last great salon of free speech? I sometimes wonder.

Before me, on my writing desk, are three things: a plaster bust of Socrates, one of Lincoln, and a small pewter Stonehenge. Unremarkable choices- the salariat equivalent of a lava lamp maybe, or the moulded plastic Buddhas beloved of garden centre grottos- but they are mine. It became a shrine by accident. I didn’t plan their purchase or position deliberately.
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If you want to know how to upset the maximum number of people in the shortest possible time, I can recommend saying- when asked- that you think using games like Minecraft in the classroom is a bit gimmicky and you can’t see much of a point to it. Cue: Boss level carnage on my inbox all day. And what it reveals about education is itself revealing.

Friday.
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What do children need? With today’s annual BBC charity jamboree looming large over playground and supermarket, it feels appropriate to talk about the children in our own schools, and what they need, and how we can help them get it.

I believe every child needs, and is entitled to an education- wherever possible- with their peers in a mainstream setting.
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The recent publication by the EEF of their report into Project Based Learning (PBL) [click here] made troubling reading for anyone who enjoys throwing traditional syllabuses in a blender and making a wish. PBL, if you’ve missed is, is:

‘…driven by an essential question which has significant educational content. The projects encouraged pupils to create an ‘excellent’ product through drafting and redrafting and then to exhibit their work to an ‘authentic’ audience.’

So far, so groovy baby.
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Unless you’re in a chemically induced coma it is impossible not to see how America creates itself constantly. It does it so, so habitually that I imagine most of the time it doesn't even know it’s doing it. People have often commented on the palpable and very visible culture of civic responsibility that exists in America, certainly compared to, say the UK. Participation, citizenship, are very live, livid concepts.

One one hand this is unremarkable considering the circumstances of its birth.
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One does not simply walk into Mordor, and one does not simply pop into IKEA for a packet of napkins and an Ottoman. The Scandinavian elves play a voodoo on your flimsy aspirations of frugality, and by the time you're supping on a hot dog in the car park of Valhalla you're dragging a caravan of Billy bookcases, tea candles, picture frames and a rug that doubles as a shoe tidy. And you forgot the Ottoman.

We've all done it; started out with one plan and ended up with another.
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A couple of days ago I was chatting to a builder friend. He had a client who worried him. ‘Thinks that people are breaking into his house and moving things,’ he told me. ‘Showed me a tiny crack under the stairs. ‘That was them,’ he told me. ‘They drilled into that.’ But when I said that no drill could reach down there, he said, ‘Ah but they got special drills.’ When I asks them how they got into the house, he said, ‘They’ve got a master key.’’ And so on and so on.
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Like Flying Ant Week or Ed Balls Day, School News Reporting follows an annual cycle, and this week (the first term for most) usually has a story which can charitably be summarised as ‘School has rule and sticks to it.’  I’ve worked at schools where police came to the gates so often the playground was nicknamed Scotland Yard. And kids get sent home all the time for school uniform, for rucks, for health reasons.
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The other day I was filming a behaviour management training video. Our cunning strategy was to use talented students on a BTEC drama course to help demonstrate the practical ways that students and teachers can interact. They were terrific, and one of them made a comment that cut to the heart of a problem we have in teaching. ‘But don’t you get this kind of stuff before you become a teacher?’ she said. And the honest answer I had to give was, ‘Er...sometimes.
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