Visionary Books Launch, Recycling Schools and Sir Raymond Priestley Lecture

With thanks to Dr Roland Meighan for this article
Those who were able to attend The School of Education at Birmingham University on November 4th enjoyed a lively programme of activities organised by the University, The Centre for Personalised Education and Educational Heretics Press

Professor Clive Harber opened the proceedings with an exposition of his new book Toxic Schooling: How Schools Became Worse. There were no voices of dissent.  All agreed that the writers visited in the book, Edward Blishen, Paulo Freire, Paul Goodman, James Hemming, John Holt, Ivan Illich, Philip Jackson, George Leonard, Soren Hansen with Jasper Jensen, Julius Nyerere, Neil Postman with Charles Weingartner, Everett Reimer, and Carl Rogers, had all diagnosed what needed to be done to make a genuine learning system fit for a democracy.  Over the years their insights had all been ignored, so things had just got worse.

Peter Humphreys and Roland Meighan introduced some of the ideas of the Centre for Personalised Education Trust (trading as Personalised Education Now – PEN) for recycling schools into invitational learning centres, using a catalogue curriculum offering a schedule of choices for learners that enabled them to build their personalised learning plans.

On the lighter side, Clive Harber then introduced his second new book, Isn’t That Dangerous? African Travels Among Academics and Other Wild Animals to Clive’s travels over 30 years in various African countries, working, researching and teaching. During that time he wrote many academic books and papers. In Isn’t That Dangerous he changed the tone and produced a humerous travel book on sub-Saharan Africa. “I split me sides laughing … the Bill Bryson of Africa” was the response of TV and radio comedian Arthur Smith. It is a portrayal borne of genuine inspiration and affection for Africa and its communities. The audience were greatly entertained by his stories and photographs.

Both books are available from Educational Heretics Press, price £16 each, postage and packing included, 113 Arundel Drive, Bramcote, Nottingham, NG9 3FQ. Tel: 0115 925 7261

After refreshments, the audience moved to another room to hear Professor Frank Coffield give the Sir Raymond Priestley lecture on Exam Factories or Learning Cultures? What’s Education For? which seemed to follow on nicely from the earlier events by proposing how we might go about recycling further education to get significant improvements. He exposed the negative effects of obsessive testing and domination-riddled places for learning. He, too, proposed person-centred learning communities.

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