A Little Learning: Broodings from the back of the class by Libby Purves

By Libby Purves

This energetic choice brings jointly journalist and broadcaster Libby Purves’ studies as journalist, guardian, governor and previous scholar of part a dozen varied colleges from Bangkok to Tunbridge Wells, showing her eclectic and provocative critiques and concepts on educating and studying. This number of the easiest of her writing within the instances academic complement covers - occasionally thoughtfully, occasionally satirically - every thing from nationwide coverage to the oddities of headteachers and the constraints of IT. schooling pros through the years have got her outsider view with enthusiasm, laughter, idea and low fury. From ministerial insanity to the pitfalls of uniform and the vagaries of kids, this publication is devoted to the entertainment of a cadre of pros Libby as soon as deliberate to affix, till she misplaced her nerve. it really is devoted, with thank you and admiration, to all lecturers.

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Or at least, it would be innocent if we could all keep our nerve. The problem is sex. I suppose the worship-instinct of small boys and nubile girls has always put them at risk; although I also suspect that the first frankly sexual pass usually kills adoration stone dead. It certainly did when Professor X put his hand up my miniskirt in 1968. You know who you are, professor, and your secret is safe with me. I accept that you just read me wrong: I wanted you to be the unattainable good, not the all-too-attainable Goat, see?

We volunteers would love it, too. The world is full of people who haven’t quite got the bottle to be full-time teachers, but who are energised by contact with the fizzing qualities of youth (even if we do need the rest of the week to recover). Perhaps there should be a way to let that good-will penetrate to the heart of education, not just raise funds for computers. Huh, say the teachers. ‘We’d have to organise them all, more trouble than it’s worth . ’ But if I were a head, I’d try it. And if there were shy volunteers, with clerical ability, I’d bloody well work out a way to get them to do the paperwork.

No: still not convinced. We scratched our heads. And at last, we came to the likeliest explanation. A former deputy head put his finger on why headmasters run marathons. ‘It’s desperate hunger for achievement,’ he said. ‘In education you’re always running to stand still, putting your heart into hopeless causes, or getting a job three-quarters done and then being foiled by bureaucracy or budget shortfalls’. He sighed, wistfully. ‘In a marathon, all you have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and endure the pain, and you’ve achieved something.

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