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Derek McMillan

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Everything posted by Derek McMillan

  1. Well I have taken to replying to myself I see. It is possible to download the latest Classroom Teacher onto a Kindle (if Santa brought you one) and read it in bed. http://www.classroomteacher.org.uk/CTjan2011.pdf The NUT is planning action against cuts and against the specific attack on the "gold-plated" public sector pensions. Cameron boasted on the TV today that strikes cannot change government policy. The fact of the matter was that it was only the threat of co-ordinated strike action against attacks on pensions which forced the anti-union New Labour government to do a u turn. The government far from being firm has already done a partial U turn (what is a partial U turn?) on funding for literacy and sport.
  2. I have met people who thought the Socialist Party were impractical in seeking a new workers' party based on the trade unions. They took the more practical step of voting Liberal Democrat to keep the Tories out." Well it's a free country. Ask not what the working classes can do for the Labour fakers Ask the Labour fakers to get off their asses and represent the working classes. Have a nice day. The Socialist Party stood in 16 out of the six hundred and forty six seats contested. So who did they advise folk to vote for in the 630 constituencies that didn't have that luxury? And who will you be asking them to vote for at the next election?
  3. Sherry Turkle in her excellent book "Life on the Screen" talks about entering a multi-user domain and finding there was a "Doctor Sherry" with an office conducting interviews with users. She was not sure if it was another user or a bot. She was reasonably sure it wasn't her. Of course she could never subsequently be quite sure she wasn't a bot that was programmed to think it was a university professor
  4. A group of teachers who backed Martin Powell-Davies’ recent stand in the NUT Vice-President election For action on workload To defend public sector schools To defend the rights of classroom teachers in academies and trust schools And to resist the attacks on education whichever canaille wins the general election! Click here to join the facebook group. Click here for the blog The latest Classroom Teacher has articles on workload, OFSTED, Academies and the forthcoming election. It is a larger group than the Socialist Teacher group - something like three times as big - and therefore includes a lot of people who are not SP members.
  5. Don't have sex, you'll live forever. At least it'll seem like forever.
  6. I was trying to make the point that it created a narrative justification convincingly. A badly made and poorly acted program justifying torture would be less appealing to the audience. In many ways (acting, narrative structure and photography) it is an "excellent program" although of course I take your point.
  7. Spooks is described by the BBC as a “tense drama series about the different challenges faced by the British Security Service as they work against the clock to safeguard the nation.” It began life as a rather transparent attempt to rehabilitate the “spooks” after their role in compiling a pack of lies to justify the Iraq War. It is a very well-written series of thrillers with a cast of interesting characters with rather more depth than you would expect in the oddly named “intelligence community.” Like its distant predecessor “The Professionals” it portrays them as human beings with a social conscience about the jobs they are asked to perform for the safety of the nation. And there you were thinking they were all old Etonians with a conscience bypass! In a recent episode (Episode 3 of Series 8) the whole issue of hostage taking and negotiating with terrorists is explored in an exciting narrative in which a group of high-powered capitalists (a thinly disguised fictional version of the Bilderberg group) are kidnapped by terrorists who have no intention of getting a ransom but instead put the capitalists on trial for mass murder in the third world and video the evidence, while uploading incriminating documents on the internet. . The Spooks are powerless as tens of thousands vote “guilty” on the internet and the terrorists carry out the death penalty online. This feeds the common fantasy that anti-capitalists are all potential terrorists and of course justifies the 'spooks' real life policy of monitoring everyone to the left of Peter Mandelson – about half the population, The plot also showed that the anti-capitalists were actually naïve tools of a russian gangster-capitalist (definitely not called Abramovich , there are libel laws after all!) who wanted to eliminate his rivals. The program definitely does not whitewash the dirty tricks the Spooks get up to but seeks to justify them. One scandal of the last decade has been the use of torture by the British secret service “by proxy”. They have been accused of using evidence provided by third parties such as the Americans at Guantanamo. In the show Lucas North (played by Richard Armitage) is shown torturing the Russian Mafioso in his own swimming pool in order to save the lives of the hostages. This is a far cry from the real life “Spooks” torturing Omar Deghayes for five years at various camps with no realistic prospect of getting any information or saving any lives. Nevertheless it is the justification of torture. Spooks is an excellent program which maintains the tension and excitement all through. It does deal with the real life issues in the secret service. You might want to take its representation of the real life “Spooks” with a pinch of salt though!
  8. I will quote your remark in the WSTA blog if that is OK with you. Also the final result of the poll 92.4% Yes. There is a poll on youguv http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/scrapsats/
  9. Click here to vote in the Guardian Poll on SATS.. Suddenly the politicians are waking up to what teachers have been telling them for decades: SATS are bad for education. The controversial key stage tests come to an end this week. Let the Guardian know whether you think the government should drop the exams altogether. 86.4% Yes 13.6% No Poll closes in 2 days Unlike telephone polls, the results aren't fixed and it costs nothing
  10. It is fair to say 1) socialism has not failed it has not been tried. 2) The serious question is whether capitalism can succeed - the present global crisis in food prices and finance markets should put a serious question mark over this. 3) It is a downright lie to equate socialism and Stalinism. 4) Even the most rabid republican is noticing that prices are rising faster than income and kids are being killed off in wars from which the corporations seek to profit. So they will vote for the Socialist alternative when it is presented to them even a rather tame "socialist" like Bernard Sanders
  11. We were just overwhelmed by the response when 283 of our members turned up in Worthing - others went to the Brighton demo. The Classroom Teacher 4 flier was very well-received. The mood of members was electric and all the speakers were cheered to the echo. The support from PCS was welcome and the feeling felt by many first time strikers from small rural schools was that they are part of a much wider movement and they can feel more confident to take action. The WSTA is pushing the idea of strengthening union organisation as a result of the strike by setting up email circles of reps and using a blog and a facebook group to draw our new activists together. These 283 are the key to the future of WSTA and by making a strong organisation we can win.
  12. WSTA has now set up a facebook page http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=27771381752 To add to the Brighton and Hove NUt http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6239878349 The TSN group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2385602766 And of course the NUT page set up by young teachers and joined by much much older teachers like me! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2252226331 Feel free to pretend you don't use Facebook! Incidentally the TSN site has advice on how to participate in facebook without laying yourself open to a lot of "friendship invitations" from your pupils!
  13. We have three proposed takeovers by the Woodard Corporation who would "desire" a head teacher with Christian principles - so no Jews need apply. And the fourth takeover is being fought by NAME Our blog http://www.wsta1.org.uk/labels/Academies.html The NAME blog http://namecampaign.blogspot.com
  14. I started teaching in 1979 and I wouldn't have put up a poster like this then. I put one up in my room this week and all the comments have been positive. Some pupils were quoting it to each other as a criticism and a suggestion they might like to heed its advice. SMT have not suggested that I take it down. It is easy to download and print one out and try it out yourself. It is a small gesture but it is just a polite (ish) way of saying homophobia is not wanted in my classroom.
  15. Well this has been a bit of an eye-opener. It is very well acted and has quite modern plot-lines. The last episode had a local teacher sacked by the school board for being left wing. I was quite amused when someone intercepted a parcel of books, took out The Communist Manifesto, read the first line "A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Communism" and said "I don't think ghost stories are quite appropriate!" Anyway I think if they were going to sack yours truly for being left wing they have left it a bit late in the day. It was a surprise to me because I read the book when I was at school, about the same time as I read the Communist Manifesto for the first time in fact, and haven't thought about it since. It is good isn't it?
  16. Well you are familiar with union meetings - not always very well attended. So I was agreeably surprised when we called a meeting for parents and teachers at the three schools threatened with privatisation under the Academy program and 150 turned up. There is a fuller report on the WSTA blog Perhaps the most notable absentee were the sponsors themselves, the Woodard Corporation. As someone put it, "they would no more ask teachers and parents their views than they would consult their servants." Bishop Woodard who set up the Woodard Corporation believed the working classes were being overeducated and the church should concentrate its efforts on the middle classes. Their schools are generally fee-paying because obviously only people who can afford to pay for education can benefit from it! They are in line for a massive influx of public money from this deal. As Hank Roberts (NUT executive) put it, "they are not sponsors but spongers."
  17. Yes my mother told me to avoid cliches like the plague I am concerned that an education provided by McDonalds will not be objective. That is not AFAIK a cliche. I used the examples of McDonalds' teaching on the subject of healthy eating and obesity and on trade union rights as possible problem areas. That is not the same as disliking vocational education. On the contrary I have a BEd and an MA in Media in Education - two vocational qualifications I would have thought
  18. I agree all companies have training schemes although this is hard to believe of McDonalds. One wonders why the government is choosing to laud this anti-union pro-obesity conglomerate at the present time. With the growing privatisation of education - four schools in West Sussex are being handed over to private corporations - how long before your children can be both educated and fed by McDonalds?
  19. The skills gap is a very serious issue but to expect McDonalds to provide an objective education is laughable. Will their candidates come out with a clear understanding of the effects of eating McDonalds? Will "Supersize me" be on their curriculum? Obesity and how to cause it? The benefits of a low wage economy? Using the libel laws for fun and profit? West Sussex Teachers' Association claim to have a copy of the paper for the Mc A level (before the Millionaire McLawyers get on the McPhone this is a joke of course)
  20. I am bound to say that there are worse things than being an overprotective parent; but then there are worse punishments than a lighthearted bit of derision in the Guardian! "Empty nest syndrome" - which I am suffering right now - has certain compensations like finding the kitchen tidy if you left it tidy. On the other hand I understand why parents try to live their lives through their "children" long after they are children no more. I just think it is a mistake. Soon enough they will have to cope on their own. Giving them the skills to do so is better than "hovering". Oh and Jean is right, we get enough helicopters for a scene from Apocalypse Now around our secondary school
  21. The facebook group for NUT is http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2252226331 Now don't pretend you are not on facebook!
  22. They hover over their children long after school, taking decisions for them which they are old enough to take for themselves. There is an article in the grauniad this morn. I will not quote all of it although all of it is good. http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/new...2234468,00.html Just one little quote, one of the types of helicopter parent: "The white knight "This parent appears at short notice to resolve awkward situations. Once resolved, the idea is the white knight will fade anonymously into the background. "The black hawk "Dreaded by teachers and educational administrators, the black hawk is unique among helicopter parents due to their willingness to go to any lengths - legal or illegal - to give their offspring a positional advantage. Particularly lethal when elected to parent-teacher associations."
  23. There is now a Jack London group on Facebook. It is OK to admit you are on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6973655834
  24. I have had queries from outside West Sussex. Unfortunately we are dealing with the West Sussex procedures so this would not be of much use to people in East Sussex. They do things differently there!
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