14th September 2018 Bat, Butterfly, Moth? Or Wolf Mask?

What can you see in the image above? What you see, theoretically, reveals quite a lot about your personality type. It is one of 20 images designed by Herman Rorschach in 1921 to indicate personality types and is still widely used. Rorschach was very interested in the art produced by psychiatric…

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7th September 2018 Big Picture, Small Details.

The above painting was completed by the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1562 and is called ‘The Triumph of Death.’ It is a large, detailed painting and is also, clearly, quite disturbing. Not, therefore, the type of image that you would normally use to convey an uplifting message in the…

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29th June 2018 “Let thy speech be better than silence. Or be silent.”

In the 1932 American election Franklin Roosevelt was challenging the incumbent, Herbert Hoover. The two men were encouraged to engage in debate. From a technological perspective, the most obvious place to do so was via the radio; 50% of American households owned a radio by 1932. Both men were…

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22nd June 2018 All you Punks and all you Teds, Mods, Rockers, Hippies and Skinheads………*

I used to complete morning duty on the school yard with a world weary colleague in his late forties. He would survey the students as they came into school and say, each week, ‘Where have all the mods gone?’ His question always seemed to be a plaintive cry, bemoaning the lost tribes of the past;…

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8th June 2019 Serendipity

I was lucky enough to be in Sorrento last week. A beautiful part of Italy, but ferociously hot. Being, by descent, from the West coast of Ireland I am not genetically predisposed to cope with intense heat. Overcast with possible light drizzle is my favoured climate. As we plodded slowly through…

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1st June 2018 This Time, More Than Any Other Time, This Time.....

The first football match I attended was 40 years ago. I grew up very near to Birmingham City’s ground, St. Andrews, and never countenanced supporting another team. My first game was an away game, at Wolverhampton’s Molineux stadium, on 1st April 1978. Birmingham won 1-0 and Trevor Francis scored,…

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18th May 2018 Is it easier to take things apart, or to put them back together?

This question has been integral to my time as a teacher, both in the classroom and as a school leader. I have asked the question of almost every class that I have taught, because a significant aspect of history relates to the nature of change, whether revolution or reform. The British Empire, the…

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11th May 2018 Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

What can you remember about 2013? What will you remember about 2018?

If you are a Year 11 student you might well look back on your first ever day as a Durham Johnston student. Nervously walking onto the school yard in your ill-fitting uniform, keen to meet up with friendly faces from your…

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4th May 2018 Spot the difference. Or, where’s Trotsky?

‘Fake news’ is a current obsession. Fabrication and false narratives undermine public discourse and confidence in institutions. David Clark, an advisor to Tony Blair’s 1997 government noted recently that some governments are currently trying to lead the world into a ‘wilderness of mirrors.’ My…

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27th April 2018 What makes someone a good teacher?

 If you have the answer to the above question you have the potential to become very rich indeed. A vast industry exists around ‘good or outstanding teaching.’ From professional organisations offering 12 week mentoring courses through to happy amateurs theorising in their sheds about the most…

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28th March 2018 Sinfonia Intitolata Bonaparte

In 1804 Beethoven was putting the finishing touches to ‘Sinfonia Intitolata Bonaparte’ when he received notice that Napoleon, a figure he admired for being both revolutionary and virtuous, had declared himself Emperor of France. Barely able to contain his rage, the composer shouted: 

‘So he is…

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9th March 2018 Mr Bagley

In 1995 the Committee for Standards in Public Life suggested 7 principles that should guide all public servants. Lord Nolan’s report identified the need for public servants to demonstrate selflessness: integrity; objectivity; accountability; openness; honesty and leadership. Those principles are…

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