What do teachers need to know?

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Initial teacher training underwent significant, perhaps fundamental, reform under the previous Coalition administration. A practical experience-based approach was favoured. Former Education Secretary, Michael Gove, argued that teaching should be understood as a ‘craft’ that was ‘best learnt as an apprentice observing a master’. Following this, funding shifted decisively to school-led programmes, in the belief that these would provide a common-sense alternative to the overly theoretical or ideological approach of many university-based programmes.

So what knowledge, skills and experiences do new teachers need? Does it help be understand teaching as a craft, a science, perhaps even an art? What balance should be struck between theory and practice? Do we need a new College of Teaching to act as a professional gatekeeper? And with increasing numbers of Academies now employing unqualified teachers, do teachers really need formal certification beyond their first degree? Continue reading

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A ‘rumble’ on religion: from Enlightenment tolerance to 21st Century offence

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One of the significant intellectual shifts heralded by the Enlightenment concerned attitudes to tolerance and religion.

 

 

Until the seventeenth century, being intolerant of other religions was considered a virtue. But in 1640, parliament abolished the Court of the King Star Chamber, which had previously silenced the voices of political opponents and religious dissenters, allowing the likes of poet and polemicist John Milton, to argue openly for the ‘spiritual liberty’ to follow one’s conscience. In his 1659 essay, A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, he wrote that ‘no man ought to be punished or molested by any outward force on earth whatsoever’ because of their ‘belief or practice in religion according to […] conscientious persuasion’.

Milton gave voice to the modern ideal of tolerance, even for those who hold views with which we strongly disagree – a principled philosophical opposition to the power of governments to determine what private religious groups and individuals could believe and think.

Now, more than three centuries later, policing the realm of the conscience is back in fashion. For example, one reaction to the rise of Islamic extremism has been a hardening of the public mood against the ‘special pleading’ of faith groups, whether relating to Halal meat or the injunctions that cartoonists should not depict the Prophet Muhammad. Meanwhile, contemporary equality legislation has led to demands to circumscribe religious groups’ rights, such as those who have been prosecuted for discriminatory actions relating to their views on homosexuality. Conversely, many religious people cite theological hurt to demand censorship. And of course, there are constant contemporary rows about the validity of faith schools. Continue reading

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Sex and the birth of the Salon

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In eighteenth century France the Salons of the Enlightenment, created and organised by aristocratic ladies, known as Salonières, became a new public space where you could hear the ideas of the great thinkers of the time, debate their meaning and, of course, have dinner and some entertainment. This ‘Sunday Short’ at The Academy will explore the role of Salonières with particular reference to the model Salon of Madame Geoffrin (pictured left). A must for all involved with organising today’s Salons – the Zurich Salon Dublin Salon Manchester Salon Liverpool Salon and The Brighton Salon

Speaker: Professor Dennis Hayes

Dennis is Professor of Education at the University of Derby. He is the founder and director of the campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF) and is an organiser of the East Midlands Salon. Dennis is known for his educational writing and journalism and is a member of the editorial board of the Times Higher Education magazine. In February 2014 he became the first education columnist for the on-line magazine The Conversation.

Date and Time: Sunday 18 July 2015 from 14.30 – 15.30

Venue: Wyboston Lakes

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What’s the use of philosophy?

David SocratesAs well as attending discussion circles, salons, debating clubs, literary-philosophical societies and events from the likes of TED, 5×15, the School of Life and Intelligence Squared, people are gathering in philosophy clubs, Socrates cafés, Enlightenment cafés, even ‘death cafés’ – yes, philosophy is one of the new rock ’n’ rolls… The big question facing philosophy clubs is what kind of impact they can hope to have on our society. (Financial Times, 29/6/2012)

Informal philosophy is on the rise. So is the teaching of philosophy in schools. But what is the use of all this philosophising? Is the idea that doing philosophy improves your quality of life, or enhances your decision-making, or makes you a better citizen? Is it hoped that philosophy can deliver answers to real-world questions of policy and practice? Or is philosophy strictly useless, in the sense of serving no purpose beyond itself?

Speakers: Michael Hand and Dennis Hayes. Chair: Ruth Mieschbuehler. Continue reading

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Do museums have a future?

Wderby mhoever wins the next election, museums and galleries will continue to be under threat.  Is this simply explained by the political economics of austerity and the need for local councils to make financial savings? Or is there a profounder cultural reason that makes such cuts easy targets even against local opposition? Have people simply forgotten what museums are for? Museums, like universities celebrate and defend themselves because of their personal, social and economic ‘impact’.  How convincing are such instrumental arguments? Can we make a better case for museums? Continue reading

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Reclaiming freedom in education and society

On Tuesday 17 March at 7:00PM in Hallmark Hotel Derby, Midland Road, DE1 2SQ Derby, the East Midlands Salon is hosting a discussion entitled ‘Reclaiming freedom in education and society’

Liberal education and the progress of knowledge depend on tolerance of the widest possible diversity of ideas and expressions of those ideas. As Mill described in On Liberty, revolutions in ideas depend on tolerating even the most countercultural arguments, and personal growth depends on confronting even the most seemingly false ideas. Continue reading

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The Future of Innovation

James WoudhuysenOn Tuesday 17 February at 7:00PM in Hallmark Hotel Derby, Midland Road, DE1 2SQ Derby, the East Midlands Salon is hosting a discussion entitled ‘The Future of Innovation’

In the UK, nuclear energy is being delayed, and prospects for fracking, high speed trains and a new airport are uncertain. There is euphoria about driverless cars, but snowstorms all too easily close roads and the radio masts for mobile networks. Meanwhile, fears of robots and Artificial Intelligence are growing.

The good news is that some new money has been made available for advanced materials, and for medical research. What can we look forward to, then, in innovation tomorrow?

Speaker: James Woudhuysen Continue reading

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The Enlightenment: has the light gone out?

Immanuel KantOn Tuesday 2o January at 7:00PM in Hallmark Hotel Derby, Midland Road, DE1 2SQ Derby, the East Midlands Salon is hosting a discussion entitled ‘The Enlightenment: has the light gone out?’

Sapere aude! – ‘Dare to know!’ or ‘Have the courage to use your own reason!’ was what the philosopher Immanuel Kant chose as the motto of the Enlightenment. In his famous essay ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784) he wrote:

‘…enlightenment requires nothing but freedom–and the most innocent of all that may be called “freedom”: freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters. Now I hear the cry from all sides: “Do not argue!” The officer says: “Do not argue–drill!” The tax collector: “Do not argue–pay!” The pastor: “Do not argue–believe!” Only one ruler in the world says: “Argue as much as you please, but obey!” We find restrictions on freedom everywhere. But which restriction is harmful to enlightenment? Which restriction is innocent, and which advances enlightenment? I reply: the public use of one’s reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment to mankind’. Continue reading

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What’s Racist?

That's Racist!

That’s Racist!

On Thursday 2o November at 7:00PM in Hallmark Hotel Derby, Midland Road, DE1 2SQ Derby, the East Midlands Salon hosted a discussion entitled ‘What’s Racist?’

Our speaker will be Adrian Hart, film maker and author of The Myth of Racist Kids, who will introduce the themes of his controversial new book That’s Racist! Responding to his introduction will be Ruth Mieschbuehler (University of Derby) and Vanessa Pupavac (University of Nottingham).

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What is a university for?

In October 2014, the East Midlands Salon hosted a discussion entitled ‘What is a university for?’

Universities are distinct institutions that engage in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding without fear or favour. Historically universities have been seen as custodians and conduits for the best of intellectual thinking within and on behalf of society. This consensus view of what universities are for has been challenged by government and funding bodies concerned with the ‘impact’ of research and its benefits to wider society and the economy.

At the same time we have seen a complementary emphasis on the student as ‘consumer’ and a growing concern with ‘student experience’ and ‘student satisfaction’. Are we seeing the end of the university as a public good and its replacement by commercial forces or a shift in focus for the greater benefit of everyone in society?

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