A friend of mine has just come back from two weeks staying at a Eurocamp in Northern France. He and his young family have done something enlightening which I don’t mind saying I am a little jealous of, in order to recharge their batteries and get that elusive beast we like to call a relaxing holiday.
They switched their phones off.
Tuning out, unplugging from the network and simply enjoying the beauty that life has to offer. Spending the time doing family stuff, probably sampling a bit of local cuisine – just spending a bit of time together as a family. When he mentioned where they had gone it immediately reminded me of one of my favourite quotes from John Keats
“Give me books, fruit, French wine, fine weather and a little music – out of doors, played by somebody I do not know”
Beautiful. It sounds like bliss.
When he returned last night and reconnected himself with reality he simply put on his Facebook status…
“So…did I miss anything?”
I responded in the most British way I could.
“It’s mostly been raining…”
I didn’t want to share with him the turmoil of the last fortnight, mostly as it’s still pretty unfathomable, but also because I’m not sure I can go over it all again. The manoeuvrings, the opinions, the name calling, the anger – and that’s just the fallout from England not kicking a ball into a net enough times. As for the other stuff – I can only offer a shrug of the shoulders and unfortunately, despite looking tirelessly for one, it appears there isn’t an emoticon for that. (Pull your finger out & sort ASAP please Mr Zuckerberg…)
I’ve trusted that Google will provide my friend with the information he needs about the kicking off of Armageddon (who’d have though it would start on a Thursday…?) and I’ve reached that state now where I’m tired of wringing our hands about what we did or what we decided or what that says about us as a nation. We could choose to stand here indefinitely, perpetually going over and over the stats, the quotes, the metaphorical and (most shockingly) actual attacks that those who run the show have been living with since we all marched to the corner of the street and made our marks on scraps of paper just a few short days (yes, I know, we’re still only on days) ago.
But in the meantime, life is carrying on. This rock we’re standing on seems intent on spinning, that big ball of fire keeps popping up in the sky and yes, the rain still does raineth everyday. We have to carry on and remember that before someone pressed that big red button in the corner, we were busy dealing with the intricacies of well – living.
This week politically is going to be huge for teachers and creative artists. On Monday, parliament will be debating a motion brought forward by those of supporting inclusion of arts subjects in the English baccalaureate – the ebacc. In the spring, the #baccforthefuture campaign fought tooth and nail to get its 100,000 signatures on a petition and is now getting its hard won moment within the parliamentary schedule.
With the take up of arts subjects in rapid decline due to the damaging curriculum changes, this debate represents a chance for the DFE to take another look at the proposals and for MP’s to try and thrash out a way of undoing this narrowing of the curriculum that has seen so many children disenfranchised in the last five years. If you’ve got three minutes, I would highly recommend taking a look at one of my local high schools take on it as they articulate it in this video far better than I could ever manage with mere words.
FOLLOW THE LINK ->> Derby High School supports the ebacc changes
One way of helping support the campaign is for people to spread the word through social media with the #theartsmatter – so here’s my ugly mug doing the best I can to pitch in. Apologies for the grumpy face, I’m allergic to selfies. This one is for the greater good though, so look at me, grinning and bearing it. (Metaphorically obviously)
Then, on Tuesday, the NUT will holding a National Strike, affecting millions of schools across the country. With placards and whistles (they are teachers after all) in hand they will be highlighting the crisis is school funding which is seeing schools struggling to meet even basic needs like keeping manageable class sizes, delivering a varied curriculum and maintaining staff numbers. Life it appears is carrying on.These big issues were here and on the table needing to be dealt with before we gave the green light to the ‘plan without a plan’. Whatever happens as fallout from ‘that’ vote (I can barely even say it without cringing) we need to make sure that people are sitting down and working out how we square the circle. How do we deliver progress in schools but in a way that widens children’s outlook on the curriculum? Is reducing public spending on education really the way to help push the country forward?
We cannot afford to be distracted right now as we won’t get another shot at some of this stuff. Despite appearances, the business of managing the country is still carrying on and key decisions about the way we want our kids to be educated will be decided this week.
Your newspaper won’t be screaming this stuff at you through its headlines and chances your radio and TV will be so busy trying to work out if anyone is going to prune the rose bush outside Jeremy Corbyn’s house that it may not even make it onto the six o clock news, but is of course of massive importance to all of us arty types and more importantly the kids we teach.
So teachers and artists… This week, please do make sure your voice is heard. Support the strike and those taking part in it if you can, take a moment to share an embarrassing selfie and message/write to/tweet to your MP to remind them what they were busy doing before Boris & Nigel did their Eurodance.
We haven’t got the luxury of time on this one.