Lowering Standards

Some more right-wing nonsense appeared in Wednesday’s London Evening Standard:

One paragraph in particular caught my eye:

Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook), the Education Secretary points out, mastered French, Hebrew, Latin and Ancient Greek, before taking his maths degree – an intellectual biography that “powerfully underlines the lesson that a rigorous academic education is the best preparation” for modern working life.

Now the statement along the lines of ‘My cat is black, therefore all cats must be black’ is of course well known as being logically nonsense. As, surely, is the statement: ‘Mark Zukenberg had an academic education and was then highly successful, therefore all people who have an academic education will then be highly successful’?

Mind you, there’s always an exception to the rule: ‘Mr Gove’s policy is ill-informed and deluded, therefore all politician’s policies are ill-informed and deluded…’?

A word in your shell-like iPhone

You probably read last week’s news about the recent English Bacc League tables. It’s shocking to discover that as many as 1 in 6 pupils are studying an extremely narrow academic curriculum (although the BBC wrote it another way round: ‘Just 1 in 6 have achieved the English Bacc’). And it seems that only 270 schools managed to achieve results in which none of its pupils successfully became encumbered by the Bacc qualification that would lead them towards wasting their time and money by attending university (or ‘as many as 216 schools scored zero’, as the BBC rather negatively put it). Which just goes to show it’s all about how it’s spun and reported.

Meanwhile Mr Gove signalled the possible return of a modern foreign language GCSE.


And in The Independent, the head of the school that topped (I think they meant came bottom of?) the Bacc league table was quoted as saying….. “I’m a great fan of travel and learning at least one foreign language. The time has come to communicate rather than just shouting and assuming people speak English.”

Well, maybe. He obviously hasn’t seen this:


It can’t be long before a reasonably fluent translation service is available on all our mobile phones and iPad-type devices. I’m hoping someone somewhere is doing some serious research into its impact on language teaching and learning. For most tourists I would have thought it made the idea of learning a local language irrelevant, while at the same time, for those who understand the wider educational value of studying a second language and want to speak it fluently, it is also likely to make languages easier to learn. Whichever is the case, it will certainly disrupt academic language courses in schools. Or at least it ought to.

The future is… Pearsonalised learning?

As a suitably qualified ‘disruptive educationalist’ I was lucky enough during the week to attend part of the Learning Without Frontiers conference in London.  It’s a long time since I’ve felt amongst a group of people that think the same way, and ages since I’ve attended a conference with such a high quality parade of speakers one after another! (Indeed maybe never before!).

Speakers from David McCandless (author of Information is Beautiful)  to Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, served to remind us that digital mobile learning will continue to invade the classroom, no matter what the current Government manages to come up with next.

Two particular speakers emerged as being perhaps the most memorable. The first was Katharine Birbalsingh, the deputy head who lost her job earlier in the year for criticising ‘trendy teaching’ at a Conservative Party conference last year.

While the content of her speech sounded like something straight out of the pages of the Daily Mail, her presentation skills were simply awesome. Speaking for 20 minutes without a script or PowerPoint slides, she swirled effortlessly round the circular podium addressing all sides of the auditorium as if she’d been born there. It’s been suggested she stands for Parliament, an idea she has apparently rejected – maybe she is thinking of running against Sarah Palin in the next US Presidential campaign? It’s just a pity that she just doesn’t get the idea that an academic education and future is not for everyone, and that academic ability is not in itself directly related to wealth or race.

Meanwhile the other ‘Wow!’ moment came at the start of the presentation by Genevieve Shore, CIO & Director of Digital Strategy of Pearson. Here’s as clever a piece of video copywriting as you’ll ever come across:

If Pearson have the imagination and budget to commission something this good, my prediction is that within five years, or indeed probably even sooner, they will have become the Microsoft of global education, perhaps with a little help from the Games industry, and of course some sort of personal mobile tablet device. Of course, how good the content will prove to be is another question. Let’s hope they get educationalists to produce it rather than programmers or new media start-ups.

Finally, in contrast, I was also unlucky enough to spend a day at BETT last week. How it has changed over the years. Gone are (nearly) all the interesting people one used to bump into or arrange to catch up with. Gone are the pioneers, and the insight one gained into the latest developments in educational technologies. Instead it’s all about management solutions for network managers, who don’t seem to be particularly bothered that there’s still virtually no quality content to place in their virtual environments. The less said about BETT, the better…

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 43 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 53 posts. There were 45 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 19th with 414 views. The most popular post that day was Thunderbirds are Gove!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were order-order.com, twitter.com, facebook.com, forums.flyer.co.uk, and urban75.net.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Thunderbirds are Gove! July 2010


Gove’s gang of right ***nkers July 2010
1 Like on WordPress.com,


Bring on the learning revolution? June 2010


About this blog October 2009


“We don’t need no on-line textbooks” November 2010