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.

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Art Changing Lives

I listened to Ken Robinson and others talking this afternoon. Thanks to BBC iplayer I was able to hear a Radio 4 programme that had gone out this morning, In His Element. It was about his role in helping to develop Derry City (stroke city as it is often called, not because of the high incidence of cerebral haemorrhages, but because depending one which side of the political divide you stand it is Derry or Londonderry.
If you’ve not heard of Ken Robinson before, I should tell you he is an educator, an inspiring speaker, ex Professor of Education at Warwick and Ted Wragg’s natural successor. If you’ve not heard of Ted Wragg, you have some wonderful catching up to do. He was a splendid man; warm, witty, fantastically intelligent. When he died several years ago, I cried and felt I had lost a friend.
But I didn’t mean to talk about death. I meant to talk about creativity and where it lies in our lives.
Ken Robinson definitely believes in the power of creativity. There’s a very famous TED talk by him, that I urge you all to listen to. Go on, it’ll improve your lives. I’ll put a link at the end of this, or even insert the video. See how I spoil you. He’s not talking about sticking sequins on a piece of card, which is al too often how creativity seems to be defined these days. It has a far wider scope. A scope that the good people of Derry and the South Bank both understand.
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Art Changing Lives

At the South Bank you can see art improving people’s lives. It is accessible, thought-provoking, fun. All around people are smiling. Whether because they are being given opportunities to learn something new:

Learning to Juggle

And don’t you just love a man who carries a toy rabbit around in his pocket? Continue reading