Choccy's blog

Sponsored academies in the UK video

A short video summarising some of the issues relating to the academies programme.

A short video has appeared called Sponsored Academies in the UK - A Form of Education Public Private Partnership. It's by the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative, not sure who they are but will have a look. A few talking heads involved include Melissa Benn (author of School Wars, Tony's daughter) and Kevin Courtney (NUT).

Education round up 7/1/12

NUT and NASUWT reject pension offer. Gove talks shite about academies. Sutton council wants to ditch class size limit.

Pension offer
So yesterday, NUT and NASUWT, the two largest teaching unions with a combined membership of about half a million, rejected the governments latest pension offer. They join PCS and Unite in doing so. ATL, a smaller teaching union and NAHT, headteacher union had accepted the offer before Christmas.

Neuropolitics, neuroeconomics, neuroethics... neurobabble: thoughts on 'Neuromania'

Some initial thoughts on the recent book, Neuromania: On the limits of brain science by Paolo Legrenzi & Carlo Umiltà (trans. by Frances Anderson), Oxford University Press

Is there a capitalist part of the brain? Is there a conservative part of the brain? Are a new set of disciplines right to suggest there may be? Legrenzi & Umiltà beg to differ.

This short volume provides a welcome respite from the sensational reporting of brain science by skimming over the various sub-disciplines and highlighting the grandious claims of proponents.

Class size matters... but money is tight.

The resistance to smaller class sizes in state schools boils down to one thing - economics.

Are smaller class sizes better for students in schools?
Surely, it's a no-brainer, right? They must be better!

Not so fast! I've had managers tell us that WE, the teachers were the most significant factor in the kids learning. Translate that as "if the kids don't do well it's YOUR fault".

Kim Jong Il - big mad communist or what?

So that Kim Jong Il is dead. The 'Supreme Leader' is dead.

What a fucking dickhead. Presiding over one of the biggest famines since Ethiopia, having millions of people living in the abject misery while he heads the 'world's first hereditary communist' state.

Radicals, Religion and the death of Hitchens

In the few days since Christopher Hitchens died of cancer I've been puzzled by the unqualified tributes by certain 'radicals', for "my enemy's enemy is, only perhaps, my friend"

I'm unmoved by Hitchens' death. I'm neither happy nor sad, why would I be?

I'd read quite a lot of his articles, and seen a lot of interviews and debates of his, but I didn't feel compelled to comment either way on his passing until a I'd seen a slurry of facebook statuses by supposed 'radicals' paying tribute in various ways, usually one of his tirades against religion.

What would a boxers union look like?

This week on a recent episode of fight sport podcast No Holds Barred there's a section on the possibilities of organising boxers into a union. The discussion notes that other sports have unions and have had high-profile strikes but boxing has never had any noticable level of organising.

Like mixed martial arts (MMA), boxing, as an individual sport, with many promotions organising fights and the vast majority of fighters pretty much just earning a wage fight-to-fight (if they aren't supplementing it with another job, coaching, pimping themselves to sponsors etc).

Anti-academy strike at Montgomery Primary school

Staff at Montgomery Primary in Birmingham were on strike yesterday over plans to turn the school into an academy.

60 teachers and school support staff, went on strike yesterday at the school in Sparkbrook, Birmingham in protest at plans to convert to academy status.

NUT, NASUWT and GMB unions all voted for strike action, and parents are supportive.

Academies, Free Schools, and destroying national pay agreements

As expected, academies and 'Free' Schools were much less likely to have closed on the November 30th strikes. This is the thin end of the wedge that ultimately is aimed at breaking teachers unions, scrapping national agreements, and moving to atomised local 'deals'.

In May 2010, when the current government were elected, there were 203 academies. As 2011 comes to close there's about 1,300. Academies are state sector schools run independent of local authority control and with a private sponsor.

Monson interviews after Fedor fight

monson fedor

A few interviews with Jeff Monson about his experience of Russian healthcare, his fight with Fedor, and Putin getting booed.

Last week Monson was on Late Night MMA (93min in). He mentions doing some seminars with anarchists and anti-fascists, Putin gettin booed and his experience on Moscow's hospitals.

How'd you end up on libcom?

Just passed the 7 year mark on this dump. How'd you end up here?

Just realised I first posted on here exactly seven years and two days ago, back when it was ENRAGER.NET.

Having dabbled in animal rights, big tent anti-capitalism and green politics for a few years I'd got more interested in class struggle when my shitty little part-time student job became my shitty fucking fulltime job after finishing uni and joining the real world.

Langdon school on strike in Newham

Teachers in Newham, east London, are on strike over management bullying and workload issues.

Teachers at the 1,900-pupil Langdon School were out for three days last week for the second week in a row and are intending to strike three days every week until issues of workload and management bullying are dealt with. It was sparked after a union survey revealed many workers unhappy with the relatively new headteacher Dr Manuzah Tabassum's management style.

Wilshaw's war on teachers

Not enough that he could be 'judge, jury and executioner' to teachers from January, Michael Wilshaw wants unions in on the act now too.

The new head of Ofsted, sorry, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools In England, Michael Wilshaw is not content with just running schools like prisons, or being head of an organisation that's sole purpose is to bully education workers and make them feel worthless, he now wants unions to start policing thier members better.

'Photocopying? No thanks!' Teachers 'work to rule' in force

Since 1st December, teachers in the NASUWT have been on a 'work to rule', engaging only in tasks within their job description in an attempt to tackle workload issues.

Since last Thursday, NASUWT members are supposed to be enacting a 'work to rule'. This came about as a separate item on that unions November 30th strike ballot.

Imagine getting hurt at work, when you should be on strike.

Taking joy in a worker being hurt at work is warped shit, that's not what this is about - you do have to question why they were there in the first place.

Yesterday a science teacher suffered facial injuries while prepping an experiment at Hazeley Academy in Milton Keynes. Health & safety is a huge issue in the science classroom, and it's good practice to do trial-runs of practical demonstrations, especially if they're new to you, I do it all the time.

Birmingham Nov 30 Strike demo

Brum strike

Brief personal report on the Birmingham November 30th Strike demo today.

Today I joined thousands* on the strike demo in Birmingham city centre as part of the latest round of strikes touted as being about pensions, more generally against 'austerity' measures, and ultimately about the majority of people being shafted day in day out. Tens of thousands were on strike across the city, with up to 500 schools in Brum & Black Country closed because of the strike.

Monson loses decision against Fedor

Jeff Monson vs Fedor Emelianenko went this distance this evening in Moscow with Fedor taking it on points.

Monson seemed to find it hard to respond to the standup game that Fedor played and was unable to take Fedor down. Fedor looked fairly methodical, using leg kicks to keep Monson at bay for the 3 rounds.

Video here

Jeff Monson v Fedor, this Sunday

Anarchist MMA fighter Jeff Monson is up against Fedor Emelianenko this Sunday in Moscow. Latest interview with him pre-fight.

Occupy philosophy blog

Came across an OccupyPhilosophy blog run by a bunch of philosophers.

An unexpected internet detour from a philosophy of biology journal brought me to http://occupyphil.org/
"We are philosophy professors, lecturers, adjuncts, and graduate students, and we are the 99%."

Seems to vary from academic reflection, advocacy, and notices about ongoing events, though not much constructive criticism of the movement's diffuse nature.

Richard Lewontin "Science & Politics"

A 2003 interview with marxist and evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin on the politics of science.

Lewontin is a legend. His critiques of biological determinism, lazy reductionism, and reactionary uses of science are key readings for anyone interested in the intersection of politics and biology.