James Heartfield is a public intellectual. He is the author of many important books including The ‘Death of the Subject’ Explained, The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society: A History and Who’s Afraid of the Easter Rising? At the next East Midlands Salon he will introduce his latest book, The Equal Opportunities Revolution, which explains why bosses took equal opportunities on board just as they were tearing up union rights at work. In the book he asks why greater rights led to greater inequality, and why advances in race and sex equality ran alongside social inequality. He then shows how the equal opportunities revolution became the general model for workplace relations in the decades that followed, and how it did not challenge, but rather perfected the liberalisation of labour law. The right won the economic war, the left won the culture war – and his book explains how.
If you are interested in global developments our February Salon, introduced by author Austin Williams, is not to be missed. His new book has been described as “terrific” (Spiked) while Asian Affairs said that “Among the myriad of books on a rising China, China’s Urban Revolution sits among the most valuable”. Here is a brief overview:
“By 2025, China will have built fifteen new ‘supercities’ each with 25 million inhabitants. It will have created 250 ‘Eco-cities’ as well: clean, green, car-free, people-friendly, high-tech urban centres. From the edge of an impending eco-catastrophe, we are arguably witnessing history’s greatest environmental turnaround – an urban experiment that may provide valuable lessons for cities worldwide.
Whether or not we choose to believe the hype – there is little doubt that this is an experiment that needs unpicking, understanding, and learning from. Austin Williams, The Architectural Review‘s China correspondent, explores the progress and perils of China’s vast eco-city program, describing the complexities which emerge in the race to balance the environment with industrialisation, quality with quantity, and the liberty of the individual with the authority of the Chinese state. Lifting the lid on the economic and social realities of the Chinese blueprint for eco-modernisation, Williams tells the story of China’s rise, and reveals the pragmatic, political and economic motives that lurk behind the successes and failures of its eco-cities.
Will these new kinds of urban developments be good, humane, healthy places? Can China find a ‘third way’ in which humanity, nature, economic growth and sustainability are reconciled? And what lessons can we learn for our own vision of the urban future?”
Our first Salon of 2018 will be the East Midlands launch of Ella Whelan’s brilliant new polemic What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism. Not to be missed! Here are some comments on her book:
“The brave, bold Ella Whelan is a leading voice of a rising generation of young warriors for free speech, which is lamentably threatened from both the left and the right in today’s world”. — Camille Paglia“And now, in this brilliant book, she puts the case for female autonomy against feminist victimhood. Some feminists will no doubt cry ‘anti-feminist!’, but this would be inaccurate; in fact, this book is in the tradition of the Suffragettes, the female explorers, the female workforce and other female pioneers of the 20th and 21st centuries who demanded that society should mine rather than suppress women’s potential. All women and men who value women’s liberation should read this”. — Brendan O’Neill (from the Foreword).Postgraduate student James Keith will chair this discussion.
Our East Midlands Salon at 7 PM on Wednesday 6 December in the Brunswick Inn, Derby, will be a festive BALLOON DEBATE at which eight Salon members will defend what they each think is the greatest work of philosophy. They will have just an initial three minutes to make their case before answering questions from the audience in defence of their choice. There will then be a vote and four of the balloonists will be thrown off the metaphorical balloon. The remaining balloonists will then have just one minute to argue for their chosen work. There will then be a vote and three of the balloonists will be thrown overboard. The victor will then be allowed to sail away into the metaphorical sky with a suitable prize! Continue reading
Speakers from several East Midlands universities will discuss the claim that ‘Groupthink’ is rife in universities at our second Battle of Ideas Satelleite event. Speakers include Dr Vanessa Pupavac (Nottingham); Dr Glynne Williams (Leicester); Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler (Derby) Dr Nikos Sotirakopoulos (Loughborough) and others academics from East Midlands universities. Come along and share your thoughts but places are strictly limited – so book early!
“A recent report by the Adam Smith Institute claims that a ‘groupthink’ mentality is rife within academia. According to the report, 75 per cent of British academics are left-liberals.
There are concerns that excessive ideological homogeneity creates the risk of bias in scholarship, with certain research areas deemed politically unpalatable and consequently ignored or even demonised. Studies from the US reveal that conservative academics are discriminated against in grant reviews and in hiring decisions, and more than 80 per cent of conservative academics feel there is a hostile climate towards their beliefs at work. In many disciplines, certain approaches are informally excluded when it comes to the appointment of staff. For example, anyone committed to knowledge-based education would stand little chance of getting a job in a university teacher-education department. Is this ‘groupthink’ or is it a reasoned rejection of out-dated approaches and the promotion of new and better ones? Continue reading
Students at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are campaigning to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ by including more thinkers of Asian and African origin in place of the current dominance of the ‘dead white males’ of Western philosophy. They complain that the university is a ‘white’ institution promoting the mythical universalism of the European Enlightenment to legitimise continuing racial domination and colonial oppression. Continue reading
Or speaker, economist Phil Mullan, argues in his new book, Creative Destruction: How to start an economic renaissance that the only way to ensure a better future is to create one. Mullan believes that what is needed is comprehensive economic restructuring backed by political and cultural change. For too long state intervention has been about ‘stabilising’ the economy: creating a corporate dependency that has entrenched economic stagnation.
This restructuring means embracing the painful disruption involved in letting the low-productivity parts of the economy go, to allow new sources of wealth creation to flourish. Crucially, for Mullan, this means seizing both the economic and democratic opportunities offered by Brexit.
So how do we create an economic renaissance? Do we need a bout of creative destruction, or should caution still reign? And does Brexit offer important opportunities to act decisively to renew British capitalism?
Date, Time and Venue: Thursday 22 June at 7 PM in The Parlour of the Brunswick Inn, Derby (£3 waged/£2 unwaged)
About Phil Mullan Continue reading
“The author Howard Jacobson once wrote that if an artist’s work is political, it only works as art if it transcends politics. Today, curatorial choices seem to have been driven by political perspective rather than artistic merit. Or, as art critic Matthew Collings wrote of the Tate Modern, its overriding message now appears to be ‘Meaning must always entail moralising’.
Worse still – argues our speaker Wendy Earle – “the modern politics of art is trite, the idea of collective art-making and performance art largely uninteresting, and the general slightness and messiness of many of the works irritating and the overall lack of nuance, subtlety and, yes, beauty is wearisome and tedious.”
Date, Time and Venue: 11 May 2017, 7 PM in the Parlour of the Brunswick Inn, Derby. £3 (£2 unwaged).
Wendy writes on the arts and culture for spiked and is convenor of the Institute of Ideas Arts and Society Forum, which promotes open and open-ended discussion of the arts and culture and of the place of arts and culture in society. She works at Birkbeck, University of London, to promote knowledge exchange and public engagement with research in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Previously she worked in educational publishing and at the British Film Institute.
A selection of Wendy’s articles is available in the Spiked Author Archive
This event is organised by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) in partnership with the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers (SCETT),Deventio Education and the East Midlands Salon.
Increasingly it seems that it is harder than ever before to be a teacher. Almost weekly there are news headlines warning of unprecedented numbers of teachers leaving the profession and of the difficulties of being able to attract new recruits.
Why is this “brain drain” from the teaching profession taking place? Certainly pay and conditions should not be overlooked, especially at a time of tightening budgets, and nor should limited resources. But research suggests that teachers are also feeling like their role is changing. Some argue that teachers are no longer at the heart of schools and that they are becoming technicians, expected to deliver lessons by the manual, with their performance measured and directed by inappropriate numerical targets.
Is the nature of the 21st century classroom such that this shift is inevitable? Or can teachers begin to regain autonomy and build the profession of teaching? Can innovations in technology and resources help teachers better achieve this? How should performance and targets be set and measured in schools?
Join a panel of educationalists to reflect on this important topic that aims to get to the heart of what the role of a teacher is – and should be – today.
Speakers include would be and new teachers as well as leading teachers and educationalists:
- Professor Dennis Hayes, Professor of Education, University of Derby; Honorary Secretary of the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers (SCETT)
- Dr Nick Daniel, A New Teacher
- Damien Roberts, Director and Co-Founder, Derventio Education
- Ged Rae, Lead Principal at Nottingham Academy
- Beverley Henshaw, a Student and intending Teacher
Chair: Patrick Hayes, Director of BESA
Date, Time and Venue: Tuesday 23 May at 7 PM in the Hallmark Hotel Midland, Derby.
FREE – BUT PRE-BOOKING ESSENTIAL ON EVENTBRITE
NB The discussion will start at 7 PM followed by a drinks reception at 8.30 PM kindly sponsored by Derventio Education.
This event will also be the Midlands launch of the SCETT book The Role of the Teacher Today (£3.50)
Campaigns such the NUS backed ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ and #DecoloniseEducation promise to overturn ‘the “Whiteness”, Eurocentric domination and lack of diversity in the curricula…which frames the West as sole producers of universal knowledge’. There is growing support for making courses, faculties, reading lists and ‘core’ subjects more culturally diverse to take account of the diverse backgrounds of an expanded student population. It is argued that ‘White’ curricula are responsible for feelings of ‘isolation, marginalisation, alienation and exclusion’ among non-white students. Continue reading