Search results for "ian whitwham"


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At the chalkface: Pressure drop

14 June 2017

Like a boxer’s second you give the same fatuous tips. Get in early, get lots of nutritional sleep and breakfast, get in the zone, get your timing right, don’t think too much, and don’t swear at the ...

At the chalkface: The Election

7 June 2017

His baleful legacy endures. Hatched for years, like the mother’s egg in Alien, it has finally burst out to blight the poor mites in all its slimy horror – terminally dull tasks, mere information ...

At the chalkface: Beware the photo-op

17 May 2017

The photo is probably unfair, Lucy might be just shy. No matter. It is richly comic. Iconic even. A tableau of disconnection. He is frozen forever in an allegory: “Prime Minister and Child.”

At the chalkface: Little Stan and the SATs

10 May 2017

Is it the Maths SAT by mistake? Sheep aren’t noted for jumping over mushrooms? Shouldn’t “walnut” be plural? Maybe said sheep or the examiners have been on the magic mushrooms?

At the chalkface: Getting to the top

3 May 2017

England is riddled with this snobbery. You should not be defined by your job or lack of it. I never taught only for the “top” children.

At the chalkface: I love the poorly educated

26 April 2017

We are beginning to have the same extremes. Rich and poor, White Flight, schools based on racial or religious lines, social immobility, a shocking level of illiteracy, and the deliberate creation of ...

At the chalkface: The lost ones

19 April 2017

I’m puzzled by this. I feel guilty, depressed. Were teachers like us really such rubbish? Many have now been sacked or are “disappeared” by murderously efficient super heads.

At the chalkface: Flannery O’Connor

29 March 2017

“The Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida,” goes the first sentence. We don’t fancy her chances. Not in a Flannery O’Connor story.

At the chalkface: The glass is half full

8 March 2017

Look, if you’re pretty good and pretty tough and really like your subject and the children, teaching is still just about the best job in the world.

At the chalkface: Armed and dangerous?

1 March 2017

I kick in the classroom door like tinder and threaten disruptives with extreme prejudice. It’s rather good fun. Revenge for those times when I was useless. Well, here I am, 100-years-old and in ...

At the chalkface: Home-schooling

8 February 2017

Meanwhile, Sylvie could care less and is very busy dancing with her polar bear, Sidney, to the Rolling Stones – not part of any foreseeable syllabus.

At the chalkface: One in a million

1 February 2017

English has been shrunk. It is thin gruel. Set texts, parrot answers and little serious creative writing. I’d instigate fierce, ruthless, elitist writing classes for the talented...

At the chalkface: Politics in the classroom

25 January 2017

Do you let Bad Stuff slide? Do you go selectively deaf and move on to the wretched syllabus? Do you permit the impermissible? Even to suggest kindness, compassion and decency seems like a political ...

At the chalkface: Favourites

18 January 2017

They surfaced, like Bill and Ben, from under thick foliage and a large lid. As their tutor and moral icon, I was summoned to give the varmints a grave lecture on their criminal silliness. My heart ...

At the chalkface: The Plan?

11 January 2017

Could we be seduced into concluding that it’s a deliberate Plan? That it’s not the result of stupidity or incompetence, but scheming and calculation – a Plan, moreover, for the destruction of state ...

At the chalkface: The New Year

4 January 2017

“I was going to hit this guy, a very little guy, so hard his head would spin, he wouldn’t know what the hell happened,” he opined at a rally. Ah, the nuances of Socratic debate.

At the chalkface: Poppy – an average pupil

30 November 2016

The poor mites attended twilight booster sessions, Saturday Morning Intervention classes, holiday revision pogroms, copied parrot answers off the board, bought Bitesize cribs, but, no, I couldn’t ...

At the chalkface: The boys at the back

23 November 2016

I never really taught those “boys at the back”. They tolerated me. We had a benign truce. They larked about and went back to their culture. We must no longer deny it – but I’m rather afraid we will.

At the chalkface: On enthusiasm (Bob Dylan)

16 November 2016

I thought Bob was better than Baudelaire and I carried Highway 61 like a bible, wrote execrable verse and was often given to speaking surreal, opaque gibberish, what with being so existentially ...

At the chalkface: Mindfulness

9 November 2016

My chums used to spend far too long trying calm the inmates down, bellowing idle threats and saying the word “right”, pointlessly, a few million times. Now their classes enter in a Trappist silence.

At the chalkface: Another modest proposal

2 November 2016

We 13-year-olds learned how to shoot a real gun, kill a man with the side of your hand or string a piano wire across a path to garrote any wandering Hun. It worked. We saw none.

At the chalkface: Intrusion

12 October 2016

But should she stop the lesson? Surely this a grave offence? Or is it just a silly prank? Is he a feckless buffoon or an incipient radical?

At the chalkface: Good Books

5 October 2016

Using texts as tests have ensured that millions of children feel excluded and alienated for life. The world of books is shut off from them forever. They are taught that they’re not clever enough to ...

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