“What’s the difference between a rut and a grave?”
Answer: The depth of the soil,
This phrase was rather eloquently coined by the American Novelist – Ellen Glasgow in the early 1900s; although it’s over a century old the sentiment is still as fresh as the day it was first written.

Those of you who are teachers will know that the job can sometimes be a series of extreme highs and lows.

The highs occur when the light flickers within the eyes of a child and they say:
“Oh I understand now!”
That ‘Bing’ moment when the imaginary light bulb appears above their head. An additional high point can be when you bump into a former student/pupil and they inform you that their chosen career path was all down to a comment or a bit of advice that you gave them when they were younger…

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Undiscovering the Mountains of Kong

Othmar's Trombone

A West African Map from 1839. A map of West Africa from 1839.

The map on the left looks unexceptional to me, a layman. It’s a standard, if rather archaic, map of West Africa.

But geographers are a lot sharper than most of us, with the kind of keen eye that can spot a child trying to pick up something very unpleasant on a wet beach at a distance of 100 yards. Through drizzle.

And those geographers would probably be able to tell you that the mountain range that runs along the north border of Upper Guinea doesn’t actually exist. It never has.

You see, this map was created by the cartographer James Rennell to accompany the Scottish explorer Mungo Park’s travelogue, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa (1798). Park was trying to find the source of the Niger river and was curious as to why it didn’t flow south of the Gulf of New Guinea. He…

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The QTS Debate


Is there a forum for an intelligent debate these days? Is there a forum for an intelligent debate these days?

This week has seen yet another massively important issue tossed around in a cavalier fashion by politicians and media folk.  It’s the all-too-common attack-as-defence routine:  ie – here is my view and you must be a complete idiot/light-weight/joke/hypocrite/fascist if you don’t agree.  It’s pretty frustrating.

I am talking about the debate on Qualified Teacher Status.  If you only watched Newsnight and the news reports of the House of Commons debate, you’d have a very wierd view of the issues.  There’s a bit more to it than worrying about whether Tristram Hunt’s children’s education will suffer if at some hypothetical time in the future they have to face an unqualified teacher. I despair hearing reports of Michael Gove having Tristram Hunt ‘on the ropes’ in the House of Commons – as if that bit of theatre proves any substantial point of…

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The Emperor’s New Clothes: Parent funded iPads in Education – stop the madness! #UKEdChat



“Books, will be obsolete in schools… our school system will be completely changed in ten years.” How often have we heard statements like this in education or “CPD” events? I am pleased to say that I have yet to hear this phrase in my new context, but in previous schools, this level of technological hyperbole seemed to be rife.


It might be interesting to note then, that this is not a comment on the arrival of 1:1 iPads for education, nor even of the advent of the internet in schools. No, this quote comes from the inventor Thomas Edison in 1913. The educational development he was referring to? That it would be “…possible to teach all human knowledge with the motion picture.”  Why then was Edison so enthusiastic about the possibilities of the motion picture in education? Probably because he had just developed his own projection hardware, the Kinetoscope! Edison’s Kinetoscope was set…

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