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Pedagogic cogitations

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Putting Happiness to Flight

As schools withdraw from the project of imparting knowledge, they turn to promoting mental health as their mission. The result is a preoccupation with identity, difference and well-being.   In a recent article, “We Shouldn’t Teach Children about Mental Health”, Charlotte Gill argues that it is not the role of schools to treat mental and emotional disorders, and their attempt to do so is harmful. Their methods are simple-minded; they make a virtue of self-absorption, with the result that healthy

Velella

Velella

 

Wild Bees

<p><p>Wild bees   Wild bees   When all is said and done, how do we not know but that our own unreason may be better than another’s truth? for it has been warmed on our hearths and in our souls, and is ready for the wild bees of truth to hive in it, and make their sweet honey. Come into the world again, wild bees, wild bees!   Hannah Kent has taken these lines from Celtic Twilight, Yeats’s “handful of dreams”, as an epigraph for her recently published novel The Good People (Pan Macmil

Velella

Velella

 

They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead

They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead . . .   Lament for the loss of history   Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, among many other books, calls herself a cultural conservationist. It’s an idea whose time has come.   Of course, this is what schools were intended to do, to pass on our cultural heritage to the next generation. This is their brief. Knowledge is cumulative, each generation adding to and correcting the understanding of its forebears. Without this vast

Velella

Velella

 

I feel, therefore I am

<p>I feel, therefore I am   Not so many generations ago, you could have written Sentio, ergo sum and been confident that most readers would have understood it as a play on Descartes’ famous Cogito, ergo sum — “I think, therefore I am”. Since then we have lost not only basic Latin as common knowledge, but also our familiarity with the seminal ideas of the Enlightenment.   “I feel, therefore I am” is the title of a chapter in Richard King’s cogently argued book On Offence: The Politics of In

Velella

Velella

 

Lovesick Winds

Lovesick Winds*   The Art of Writing and How to Teach It     * Refers to a passage from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra: ‘Purple the sails, and so perfumèd that/The winds were love-sick with them’, which itself owes much to Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives, which in turn was influenced by . . . ?   Kids are copycats, and have been since long before Mitochondrial Eve first played pat-a-cake with her progeny. And it's a good thing they are, because that's how they learn.   Th

Velella

Velella

 

Dear Ms Primary School Teacher

Dear Ms Primary School Teacher   Thank you for referring me to “The Last Trombone Player” by Marcus Buckingham. It’s kind of you to recognise my interest in these matters and to share your views with me. I do appreciate it.  In fact the video clip was very enlightening indeed. I have finally grasped the point that the philosophy of the school is to play to children’s strengths and ignore their weaknesses. You don’t waste time on subjects for which the child has little interest and no natural p

Velella

Velella

 

Knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven

“Drill and kill,” they say. “Skill and thrill.”   Is this truth in a nutshell or an earworm that stops you thinking?   Answer: It’s an earworm, relying for its appeal on rhyme and a false opposition between drill and skills.   In fact, skills are knowledge that has been drilled until it becomes automatic.   Even motor skills begin as knowledge. Think of knitting. First it’s a studied, laborious process that you talk yourself through, then it becomes second nature. Declarative memory has been tra

Velella

Velella

 

The sleep of reason brings forth monsters

I have been pondering what it is about sites like this, which is intended as a forum of ideas, that unleashes so much bile.   It’s partly the anonymity, of course. Anonymity makes the coward bold.   It’s also, I suspect, the attractions of the pillory, which the petty sadists of the virtual village can’t resist. A non-standard opinion is spotted and they start casting around for rotten tomatoes to hurl.   The effect is that what should be a forum acts instead as an arm of the establishment, poli

Velella

Velella

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