An afternoon in the Orangerie. When experts stand at the front and #JustTellThem with passion

The people I follow on Twitter are mostly educators but I do follow some others as well. One such person is the author Alexandria Szeman. Every Saturday Alexandria chooses one painter and tweets their work. On 4th March 2017 the artist she featured was Anna Boch who was a Belgian Impressionist (1848-1936). Anna Boch was a name I was not familiar with. I loved all the paintings Alexandria tweeted (you can see them here). Alexandria and I started chatting about impressionists and as Monet is my all time favourite we started talking about him. The National Gallery in London has quite a few Monets and whenever I go to the Gallery I make a point to go to the rooms where these are displayed. I then told Alexandria about the other place I visited in order to see Monet’s work; the Musee de L’Orangerie in Paris.

After Alexandria and I finished chatting I started thinking of the time I had been to Paris and had visited the museum. On a previous visit I had visited the Louvre and I also knew about Musee d’Orsay. The trip during which I had visited Louvere hadn’t been for the express purpose of going there. I happened to find myself in Paris and thought since I was in Paris with a free afternoon I should go and see the Mona Lisa. So I did. The trip to Musee de L’Orangerie was different. This was a trip I planned for the sole purpose of going to the Orangerie.

You must be wondering where I am going with this. Bear with me, it will become clear. As I said I did not know a place like Musee de L’Orangerie even existed. The first time I heard about it was when I attended a lecture at my daughter’s school. The lecture was delivered by Professor Anthony Slinn. Professor Slinn has spent over 30 years lecturing and now gives over 200 presentatons a year. Professor Slinn is an exceptional speaker. He stood at the front, facing his audience (we were sat in rows!). He enthralled us with his wit and intelligence and his meticulously researched presentation. You could hear the passion in his voice. He told us about Monet and we listened. He brought the topic to life. Though I love impressionists and especially Monet, I would never have gone to Paris just to visit the Orangerie if it had not been for Professor Slinn. And why did I do that? Because I was listening to someone who is an expert, someone who is passionate about his subject. And sitting there, “passively” listening to him, I became passionate too. Many people think that when teachers stand at the front and “just tell” their students it must be a boring experience for the students. Not so. If the teacher is an expert and passionate about their subject then this “just telling” stuff makes students passionate too; passionate enough to jump on the Eurostar and spend the afternoon in the Musee de L’Orangerie

The video below doesn’t do jsutice to the exhibit but it may give you an idea of the treassure that was awaiting me in the Orangerie because a passionate expert transmitted his passion to me.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Six habits of highly successful students, thanks to @AceThatTest and @J_MedinaUML

I came across a series of tweets on six habits of highly successful students by J Medina  I thought I’d collate them in a blog so I and others can easily refer to them when needed.

Link to the video which explains the above six habits.

Link to all the Learning Scientists’ videos

Link to Learning Scientists website.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My hopes for diversity in the education profession; a blog for @BAMEedNetwork

id-100376339

Image courtesy of lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The term diversity means something which signifies a range of different things, an assortment, a mixture etc. When we speak of diversity, we are referring to respecting the individual, we are referring to the uniqueness of each individual, we are referring to our individual differences but most importantly we are referring to acceptance of the individual. This acceptance also entails respecting and valuing the individual.

Diversity, equality and equity are interlinked. We are almost two decades into the 21st century but diversity, equality and equity still needs discussion and addressing. These are complex issues and there are no easy answers because we have only scratched the surface of the issue and haven’t even formulated all the questions yet. The best way to promote and celebrate a diverse society is through education and to do this, the profession needs to start by promoting diversity within itself.

These issues are complex and hence there will be no easy solutions or quick fixes. People sometimes put forward the idea of quotas to increase diversity. Again, we need to be very careful before introducing quotas. Baroness Doreen Lawrence was on an expert panel at the Charles Street Building, Sheffield Institute of Education, last year. One of the questions posed to the panel and audience concerned the attainment gap of BAME university students. The audience were asked to vote for one of the below which they felt should be the first action in addressing this.

  • Amend staff recruitment policies so staff are representative of the wider population
  • Accept that evidence suggests there is institutional racism and take measures to address it
  • Set up strong transition and progression routes and genuine aspirational pathways
  • Set BAME student recruitment quotas

Looking at the above four choices, which one do you think got the least votes?

Option 4 got the least number of votes (6%). Baroness Lawrence, too, said she did not agree with quotas and would go for Option 3 (which happened to be the one with the most votes). I also think that quotas are perhaps the wrong way to solve the diversity problem. One problem with quotas is that once you start a quota system and meet the quota, there may be a tendency to relax and think the problem has been solved.

So, what are my hopes for diversity in education?  I would like to have an education system where every individual is allowed to and has the resources and opportunities to access all that they need to in order to excel. I would like barriers removed so that more men feel they can go into teaching at early years and primary level, women feel they can go for leadership positions, every student (regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, income) has access to higher and further education. I would like us to really examine issues such as why people from disadvantaged white British backgrounds are least likely to access higher education and why female Bangladeshi graduates are less likely to be managers or professionals than male Bangladeshi graduates. I hope that equality, equity and diversity are promoted by treating by EVERYONE fairly. I hope there is equal access for everyone in all fields. I hope that we can help EVERYONE fight discrimination. I hope we will create environments where everyone can have a say; where people can speak up if they have been discriminated against, where people won’t be afraid to speak up thinking they may be thought of sexist, racist, etc. I hope that as a first step

“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world  safe for diversity.” John F Kennedy

And in order to do that

“What we have to do…is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.” Hillary Clinton

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cultural Knowledge.

The below passages are taken from Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie.

Chapter 25 A Luncheon Party

Captain Hastings

Somebody—I forgot who—had uttered the phrase ‘judgement of Paris’, and straight away Jane’s delightful voice was uplifted. ‘Paris?’ she said. ‘Why, Paris doesn’t cut any ice nowadays. It’s London and New York that count.’ As sometimes happens, the words fell in a momentary lull of conversation.

It was an awkward moment. On my right I heard Donald Ross draw his breath sharply. Mrs Widburn began to talk violently about Russian opera. Everyone hastily said something to somebody else. Jane alone looked serenely up and down the table without the least consciousness of having said anything amiss.

Chapter 30 The Story

Hercule Poirot

It is at a luncheon party. Sir Montagu Corner makes a reference to a conversation he had with Lady Edgware on the night of the murder. That is easy. But Nemesis comes upon her later. There is a mention of the “judgement of Paris” and she takes Paris to be the only Paris she knows—the Paris of fashion and frills! ‘But opposite her is sitting a young man who was at the dinner at Chiswick—a young man who heard the Lady Edgware of that night discussing Homer and Greek civilization generally. Carlotta Adams was a cultured well-read girl. He cannot understand. He stares. And suddenly it comes to him. This is not the same woman. He is terribly upset. He is not sure of himself. He must have advice. He thinks of me. He speaks to Hastings. ‘But the lady overheard him. She is quick enough and shrewd enough to realize that in some way or other she has given herself away.

Reading Agatha Christie’s detective novels, especially those featuring Hercule Poirot was how I spent many pleasant days when young. Recent tweets about cultural literacy, ED Hirsch, classic lierature etc reminded me of the above passages. I think you can guess why!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

PISA 2015: Analysis and blogs. 

Below, in no particular order, are blogs analysing the 2015 PISA results published today. If I’ve missed any, please let me know. 

Maybe the most relevant figure from PISA, imho by Pedro De Bruyckere

What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries by Amanda Ripley

PISA results are in by Greg Ashman

The 10 key fundings from PISA by John Jerrim

PISA 2015: Initial analysis by Sam Freedman 

10 things you (probably) didn’t know about PISA by Nick Hassey

PISA 2015: No improvement for a decade … and 10 other oddities by Jess Staufenberg 

Long read: Does Pisa really tell us anything useful about schools? by William Stuart

PISA 2015: some tentative about successful teaching by David Didau

My top PISA takeaways by Stephen Tierney 

Royal Society comments on PISA 2015 UK science performance 

Pisa: ‘Surely the education debate being informed by evidence from more than one country is a good thing’ by Natalie Perera 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Google can help but it needs your knowledge before it can 

I’ve just written a blog in which I talked about being taught to paint. As the artist was a crucial part of that blog, I wanted to use his name in the blog but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what that was.  So, I decided to use my 21st century skills (!!) and fired up Google. And then I was stuck! The search terms I used didn’t bring up the information I needed. “Family events at National Gallery” brought up events happening now, not the ones from years ago. Similarly, searching for “Artist in residence National Gallery” was of no help either. I thought to myself that this was silly; I should try and remember what I know of this artist and then, maybe, Google would be able to throw up his name. So, what knowledge did I have of this artist?

1. I knew he was from South Africa

2. I knew he lived in London at that time

3. If I remembered correctly, then his name began with “A”

4. I knew he had studied in Rome and Paris

5. I knew he had exhibited in New York

I started searching using the above and got

The first search result wasn’t what I was looking for. I then clicked the second,”List of South African artists-Wikipedia”. I started scrolling through the list and finally came to letter K and there it was-Ansel Krut. The name was familiar and it began with A! I decided to search for images.


Pay dirt!

So, Google did help but only after I used knowledge I had stored in some corner of my brain!

Hirsch is right; Google isn’t an equal opportunity fact finder! 

Today (3rd March 2017) I came across this tweet which I just had to add here. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I was taught creativity

When my daughters were young we spent a lot of our holidays in the National Gallery. They used to (still do, in fact) have family holiday activities. We used to take the train to Charing Cross and then walk to the Education Centre where the workshops were held.

When everyone had gathered we were led into the Gallery. The workshop would start by all of us gathering in front of a particular painting which we would study for a bit. We would then go back to the Education Centre and using the painting as inspiration complete the activity. These workshops were led by resident artists.

On one such trip I was watching my daughters paint when the artist, Ansel Krut, came up to me, handed me a canvas and said I should have a go. I told him I didn’t think I would be able to do what he was expecting us to do. He handed me a brush and said that everyone can be taught to paint and proceeded to give me some tips and few instructions.

I sat down and started painting. I thought that after he had taken the trouble to explain what I needed to do, the least I could do was give it a go. I also thought it would be good for my children to see me attempt something I wasn’t very confident of doing well.

At the end of the workshop Ansel went around looking at what we all had done. When he saw my canvas, he was very complimentary and asked me if I was happy I had given it a go. I was. Still am. My canvas (picture below) occupies a prominent place at home now.

What made me think of this? Well, the Twitter debates about creativity and teacher instruction.

You may like to read this post too. Traditional methods enhance creativity in art 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments