Thursday 13 March 2014

Gawd 'elp us!

I'll admit to being very dubious about Twitter (though, compared to Sue, I could almost be Stephen Fry!).

Still there's more to Twitter than just being able to smear people with an 'innocent face' (oh yes)... 

I spotted a tweet a while back from Stephen Pollard (Jewish Chronicle editor) describing a documentary he'd heard on Radio 4:
The @Sarah_Montague doc on learning on @BBCRadio4 now is one of the most fascinating documentaries I've ever heard.
On the strength of that I thought I'd give it a go, despite its title being My Teacher Is an App, and despite it being presented by Sarah Montague. 

I won't describe it here (as you can listen to it for yourselves in less than half an hour), but I'd strongly echo Stephen Pollard's enthusiasm. It's also one of the most fascinating documentaries I've ever heard, and I came away buzzing with hope that Britain's sclerotic educational system might be transformed by it. My head swam with ideas.

Quickly narrowing my focus again though - away from heady dreams of making British children the most knowledgeable in the world and back to the raison d'ĂȘtre of this blog - the programme came across as being something unusual for the BBC, offering a genuine whiff of unorthodox thinking.

The second episode, moving from schools to universities, was a little less inspiring - if only because its a far more fraught area (Listen, and you'll hear!) - but still oddly thrilling (yes, 'thrilling'). 

After such an exceptional pair of programmes, I was both interested in and worried by what the third and final episode might bring us, especially as, unlike the other programmes, this was a BBC-arranged hour-long audience-participation debate...and we know what to expect from them.  

The two documentary editions reported from the United States. The final debate was firmly British.

There were four main guests; namely, a neuroscientist (Dr Paul Howard-Jones); a film-maker and Labour peer (Lord Puttnam); a former Labour education advisor (Sir Michael Barber); and a Guardian/Ecologist writer (Jay Griffiths) - which is about as BBC/left-liberal-biased a panel as you could get, and which offered (Dr Howard-Jones excepted) an unremittingly Labour/Guardian 'range' of opinions.

Alongside them came various British headteachers, Professor Alison Wolf (wife of Keynesian economist Martin), left-toppling Professor Mary Beard, an advisor to the Labour-led Welsh Assembly, Professor Mary Beard (again), some chap from the Open University, eco-literary professor Jonathan Bate, some pupils and students, Professor Mary Beard (again), Professor Alison Wolf (again)...i.e. another tsunami of left-liberal-biased opinion. 

I'm aware that my way of describing the various guests here is hardly judicial in tone, but the bias is proven and the verdict given...

Plus, unorthodox and/or right-winger takes on the debate could hardly have been less conspicuous by their absence here.

The utter left-liberal blahiness of the debate, in contrast to the surprising, sharp, clear, enthusiastic opinions in the two preceding episodes, sapped much of my enthusiasm away. 

It's just not going to happen here any time soon. Education-wise, we're sunk (as a nation)...

...and bias-wise, the BBC lets us down so often.


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