The Coronavirus Diaries, 29th August 2020

It’s not so much autumnal as wintry. I have just closed my bedroom windows tight shut. Last night I was very aware of the chill wind blowing around my ears where I had left the windows slightly open. I’m in long sleeves, long trousers, socks and slippers. Goodness me. Well it is a bank holiday weekend which is often interpreted by the rain gods as a summons.

I have been thinking about education for several reasons. One, the most important, being the death of Ken Robinson. During my time as a teacher (actually does one ever stop being a teacher even when not working as one?) there were two giant thinkers in education. The first was Ted Wragg, and like many I cried when he died, too young. He was sharply intelligent, funny, supportive of teachers and passionate about education. He got me and many other educators through some very bad government initiatives through the clarity of his thoughts and by making us laugh. Then he died, and overnight it seemed Ken Robinson appeared. Like Ted he was wry, witty, and passionate about education. I don’t know if the two ever met, but if not there’s a play to be written where we imagine the intellectual and intelligent conversation that would have been free of pomposity and self-indulgence. Who will be next? It would be good to see a woman educator, a black educator coming to the fore.

Ken Robinson’s talk about schools and creativity has been widely viewed. But those of you who have missed it or want to see it again, here it is.

The depressing thing about is that it was recorded fifteen years ago, and had already been delivered in various forms before that, but I can’t see that despite the widespread acclaim much has changed, the arts are still dismissed as unimportant. Witness the cuts we are seeing now as a result of the economic crisis caused by Covid. My contention is that we need the arts more now, not less. They are imperative for our individual and societal mental health.

Another reason for thinking about education has been the continuing exam results fiasco. And then I watched Boris Johnson’s bizarre speech at the UN on artificial intelligence nearly a year ago. Here’s Michael Spicer’s take on it.

What is interesting about it is how at the first opportunity Johnson goes back to something he knows – the classics, and knows what he is talking about, in stark contrast with what he says about AI. He starts to look happy, confident. But suppose what he knew about was social sciences, or media studies? These are subjects we have learned to despise despite, once you think about it their obvious relevance and use in our age. Would he expect us to be similarly wowed by his performance? I suspect not. Few of us study the classics now. I spent two years at school not learning Latin. They have a cachet. Rees-Mogg spouts bad Latin (I have two friends who are classics teachers) and gets away with it because most of us haven’t a clue. Johnson is also seeking to impress us with his knowledge of the Greek myths. This is pure snobbery and pretentiousness. Watch out, at some point in the not too distant future he’ll make a speech about Covid 19 with references to the classics. I’d put money on it. He’s posing as a cultural giant, whereas you don’t have to listen to him speaking for long to realise he is a cultural Pygmy. I apologise to Pygmies. He is way below you. In fact I cannot at this moment think of anything I could place him above. Grains of soil have more integrity.

Stay safe. Keep well. Be kind.


4 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 29th August 2020

    • Thank-you Octavia. Watching Johnson making that speech, and any other, it Is quite clear the main message, is Look at Me, I’m Boris Johnson, and he believes just being Boris Johnson is enough. It’s not. Watch the people in the audience, they laugh but they are laughing at him, not at his jokes. It’s alarming.

    • Right now? Asleep on the chair with his back to me. Or would you like more pictures? His instagram pix are displayed here too, you just need to scroll down and they on are on the right. Almost time for Mr September on his calendar, and definitely time I started to put his 2021 calendar together.

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