Tag Archives: Equality

“Everybody involved, nobody left out”⤴

from @ Reach

Nobody likes being left out at school. Whether it’s not getting the chance to join in with activities in the classroom, playground or sports field, feeling excluded or unsupported is just SO not what anyone needs.

The good news is that young people called the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion are on a mission to help schools think about how they can become more inclusive. They recently met up with Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney to have their say about how important it is that ALL pupils – whatever their age, background, or support need – feel included in school.

Talking about what inclusion means to them and how to make sure pupils feel safe, accepted, and treated equally, the Young Ambassadors shared what matters to them the most:

“Everybody being included in education regardless of need”

“Making it easy for pupils to ask for help and offer the right support”

“Not being defined by any difficulties you have”

The young people thought that it was really important for schools to make sure that everyone understands and has a positive attitude about support needs like disabilities and mental health issues:

“Whole school awareness of additional support needs can support much better understanding and reduce stigma and isolation”.

And by ‘everyone’, the Ambassadors meant not just the pupils but the teachers as well – they told the Education Minister they think that all teachers should have training on inclusion and the different types of support needs pupils may have and how this might affect them in school.

“When staff have an understanding of different additional support needs and can understand certain behaviours, it helps them understand why young people may act in a particular way”

They had some good ideas for how to raise awareness, like holding pupil conferences, taking part in national awareness weeks, putting on school assemblies led by pupils, or developing awareness raising days about specific issues such as mental health or being LGBT.

The Inclusion Ambassadors said that it was really important for schools to make sure pupils with support needs had the same chance as other pupils to have a say in decisions:

“If school don’t support you to try things how will we ever get the chance?”

 “Support staff have ideas of what young people are good at or not good at. Don’t make assumptions.”

We need to create positive stories about pupils with additional support needs rather than focus on the negatives.”

Summing it all up perfectly one Ambassador told John Swinney:

“We want to be seen as individuals with our set of unique strengths and skills. 

So what next for the Inclusion Ambassadors?

After the success of their meeting with the Deputy First Minister, the Inclusion Ambassadors are creating a pledge that schools can use to show they are committed to inclusion. They are also going to make a support pack and short film for schools to raise awareness of inclusion and how important it is to listen to young people’s views.

 

 

The post “Everybody involved, nobody left out” appeared first on Reach.

Defective articles and the Love of God⤴

from @ blethers

I've been catching up on an unread bit of a Sunday paper, and found an interview with actor James McCardle. In the light of what I've been involved in recently, this struck me:
People who live a heteronormative life might feel they are free but until we life a life that includes equality of sexuality, gender, equality of class, equality of race then no-one is free.
There's no freedom at all unless there is freedom for all. I understand there have to be labels when there is still a fight to be had, but that shift has to be cultural and it's never going to work if you keep dividing people.
Yes, you say - or do you? Not yet, it seems, if you're a certain kind of church member. And it pains me, as a member of the church for the past 44 years, to have to say that. Especially after the relief many of us felt when my own denomination (and yes - that's another division) decided at last to remove the barriers to equal marriage in our churches. And then it came to deciding where these marriages would be celebrated.

I don't want to go into agonising detail of my latest discoveries - the how, the when. But I want to ask a question. What in God's name is going on in the minds of the people - and I think and pray that indeed they are a minority - who stand, grimly or miserably, in the way, barring the use of "their" church buildings for the celebration of a same-sex marriage?

"It's the word 'marriage'" they insist. It means a man and a woman."

I can think, as my mind flounders in the face of their intransigence, of two things that I didn't get the chance adequately to point out. The first is that such a meaning of the word is but one of four in the quite elderly Concise Oxford that I consulted. The second is that it's a word. Not the Word of God, whatever I believe that to be, just a word. A different word in all the languages of the world, from the close relations of the Latin languages to the intricacies of Russian ... and take a look at this, from an excellent blog:
The word «брак», of course, has another meaning in addition to “marriage”. Its second meaning is “defective articles, discards”. While some marriages do end up discarded, the two «брак»s are not linguistically related.
Language is fascinating, but if I were to enter into any such detail in conversation I'd be accused of being intimidatingly clever, far too fluent for my own good. But for anyone to bar the way to an equal sharing in the love of God in the poor house that we humans have built to gather so that we can feel we are together in sharing that love, for anyone to use a pathetic, human concept, expressed in language that humans have made in order to communicate with each other as an excuse to reserve that space for their own selfish use - is that of God? We don't even need to use language in our deepest communication with what we call God - God who knows the secret of our hearts...

So I'll put it simply:

Language is not of God.
Love is of God.


Women and men and trains – and Jeremy.⤴

from @ blethers

I clocked Jeremy Corbyn's thought about women-only compartments on trains but didn't dwell on it until I read Kelvin's post and tried to leave a comment (it was eaten by gremlins so I'm doing it here instead). So - would this be A Good Thing? Or is it too reminiscent of purdah and all that western women associate with such seclusion: veils, burkahs, kinder, küche, kirche ...? And I considered my immediate reaction, and tried to reconcile it with the person people think I am, and this is what came bubbling to the surface.

I don't travel solo much on public transport these days, but one of the pensioner-like things I do is use the bus from Dunoon - Glasgow. It's free, it takes you on the ferry without your needing to get wet on the pier, it drops you in the centre of town, you can doze off on it and not be taken past your stop. But nowadays I either sit on the outer seat of a pair, or sit beside another woman, because of an incident a year or so ago. Dear, sensitive reader, picture the scene:

I am sitting on the bus which I boarded in Dunoon with about seven people. I am in a window seat, looking out in a dwam at the wet road when we stop to let people on in Gourock. A tall man - not fat, just tall - of about 70 sways up the aisle and crashes down in the seat next to me. He lands half on top of me, to be accurate, squashing my arm and pressing his own arm into my right tit. I wait for him to apologise and move. I go on waiting. I stare at him. He smiles, complacently. I point out that he is too close for comfort, but he makes no move. I tell him he's invading my space and I want him to get out of it. He scoffs, and moves very slightly. He then begins to complain in a loud voice about unreasonable women, until I tell him I'm going to make a scene if he doesn't desist.

I take refuge in Twitter, in which medium my niece saves the day by making me laugh aloud. (Annoying man finds this discomfiting and I am glad). She has coined a phrase to describe her pet hate on public transport, for it is younger men with  lava crotches that give her the most trouble. And happily annoying man isn't going all the way to Glasgow and I am freed from his clammy presence.

Kelvin in his post talks about the need to deal with violence against women, and I agree with him. But neither my Annoying Man nor my niece's spread-legged travelling companions are being overtly violent - they're just behaving in a way that none of the men in my own circles would ever behave. They wouldn't be in my circles for long if they did. But they represent two distinct classes of public transport-users: throwbacks to a past age and present-day strutters (you know the walk?) who still think they are the dominant species. The former are likely to think it's all right to address women as "dearie" if they complain, and the latter to use Anglo-saxon monosyllables every second word in conversation as well as hogging all the available space.

None of which is actually threatening - or is it? And yes, in a way it's less threatening as one becomes frankly old. But if I had to take an evening train alone, as I used to when I caught the 11pm from Edinburgh to Glasgow in my student days after a concert, I'd love to have the choice of a women-only carriage. And if there were to be such a thing, I'd use it. Every time. Even though I feel ashamed of writing that, even though it seems a betrayal of the equality I have worked for all my life, I know it's true.

And maybe it's because Jeremy Corbyn is my generation that he knows it too ...

Women and men and trains – and Jeremy.⤴

from @ blethers

I clocked Jeremy Corbyn's thought about women-only compartments on trains but didn't dwell on it until I read Kelvin's post and tried to leave a comment (it was eaten by gremlins so I'm doing it here instead). So - would this be A Good Thing? Or is it too reminiscent of purdah and all that western women associate with such seclusion: veils, burkahs, kinder, küche, kirche ...? And I considered my immediate reaction, and tried to reconcile it with the person people think I am, and this is what came bubbling to the surface.

I don't travel solo much on public transport these days, but one of the pensioner-like things I do is use the bus from Dunoon - Glasgow. It's free, it takes you on the ferry without your needing to get wet on the pier, it drops you in the centre of town, you can doze off on it and not be taken past your stop. But nowadays I either sit on the outer seat of a pair, or sit beside another woman, because of an incident a year or so ago. Dear, sensitive reader, picture the scene:

I am sitting on the bus which I boarded in Dunoon with about seven people. I am in a window seat, looking out in a dwam at the wet road when we stop to let people on in Gourock. A tall man - not fat, just tall - of about 70 sways up the aisle and crashes down in the seat next to me. He lands half on top of me, to be accurate, squashing my arm and pressing his own arm into my right tit. I wait for him to apologise and move. I go on waiting. I stare at him. He smiles, complacently. I point out that he is too close for comfort, but he makes no move. I tell him he's invading my space and I want him to get out of it. He scoffs, and moves very slightly. He then begins to complain in a loud voice about unreasonable women, until I tell him I'm going to make a scene if he doesn't desist.

I take refuge in Twitter, in which medium my niece saves the day by making me laugh aloud. (Annoying man finds this discomfiting and I am glad). She has coined a phrase to describe her pet hate on public transport, for it is younger men with  lava crotches that give her the most trouble. And happily annoying man isn't going all the way to Glasgow and I am freed from his clammy presence.

Kelvin in his post talks about the need to deal with violence against women, and I agree with him. But neither my Annoying Man nor my niece's spread-legged travelling companions are being overtly violent - they're just behaving in a way that none of the men in my own circles would ever behave. They wouldn't be in my circles for long if they did. But they represent two distinct classes of public transport-users: throwbacks to a past age and present-day strutters (you know the walk?) who still think they are the dominant species. The former are likely to think it's all right to address women as "dearie" if they complain, and the latter to use Anglo-saxon monosyllables every second word in conversation as well as hogging all the available space.

None of which is actually threatening - or is it? And yes, in a way it's less threatening as one becomes frankly old. But if I had to take an evening train alone, as I used to when I caught the 11pm from Edinburgh to Glasgow in my student days after a concert, I'd love to have the choice of a women-only carriage. And if there were to be such a thing, I'd use it. Every time. Even though I feel ashamed of writing that, even though it seems a betrayal of the equality I have worked for all my life, I know it's true.

And maybe it's because Jeremy Corbyn is my generation that he knows it too ...

Women and men and trains – and Jeremy.⤴

from @ blethers

I clocked Jeremy Corbyn's thought about women-only compartments on trains but didn't dwell on it until I read Kelvin's post and tried to leave a comment (it was eaten by gremlins so I'm doing it here instead). So - would this be A Good Thing? Or is it too reminiscent of purdah and all that western women associate with such seclusion: veils, burkahs, kinder, küche, kirche ...? And I considered my immediate reaction, and tried to reconcile it with the person people think I am, and this is what came bubbling to the surface.

I don't travel solo much on public transport these days, but one of the pensioner-like things I do is use the bus from Dunoon - Glasgow. It's free, it takes you on the ferry without your needing to get wet on the pier, it drops you in the centre of town, you can doze off on it and not be taken past your stop. But nowadays I either sit on the outer seat of a pair, or sit beside another woman, because of an incident a year or so ago. Dear, sensitive reader, picture the scene:

I am sitting on the bus which I boarded in Dunoon with about seven people. I am in a window seat, looking out in a dwam at the wet road when we stop to let people on in Gourock. A tall man - not fat, just tall - of about 70 sways up the aisle and crashes down in the seat next to me. He lands half on top of me, to be accurate, squashing my arm and pressing his own arm into my right tit. I wait for him to apologise and move. I go on waiting. I stare at him. He smiles, complacently. I point out that he is too close for comfort, but he makes no move. I tell him he's invading my space and I want him to get out of it. He scoffs, and moves very slightly. He then begins to complain in a loud voice about unreasonable women, until I tell him I'm going to make a scene if he doesn't desist.

I take refuge in Twitter, in which medium my niece saves the day by making me laugh aloud. (Annoying man finds this discomfiting and I am glad). She has coined a phrase to describe her pet hate on public transport, for it is younger men with  lava crotches that give her the most trouble. And happily annoying man isn't going all the way to Glasgow and I am freed from his clammy presence.

Kelvin in his post talks about the need to deal with violence against women, and I agree with him. But neither my Annoying Man nor my niece's spread-legged travelling companions are being overtly violent - they're just behaving in a way that none of the men in my own circles would ever behave. They wouldn't be in my circles for long if they did. But they represent two distinct classes of public transport-users: throwbacks to a past age and present-day strutters (you know the walk?) who still think they are the dominant species. The former are likely to think it's all right to address women as "dearie" if they complain, and the latter to use Anglo-saxon monosyllables every second word in conversation as well as hogging all the available space.

None of which is actually threatening - or is it? And yes, in a way it's less threatening as one becomes frankly old. But if I had to take an evening train alone, as I used to when I caught the 11pm from Edinburgh to Glasgow in my student days after a concert, I'd love to have the choice of a women-only carriage. And if there were to be such a thing, I'd use it. Every time. Even though I feel ashamed of writing that, even though it seems a betrayal of the equality I have worked for all my life, I know it's true.

And maybe it's because Jeremy Corbyn is my generation that he knows it too ...

Special needs are a special case⤴

from @ Mimanifesto - Jaye's weblog

I came across a great blog post, courtesy of my twitter PLN this afternoon, which has really had me thinking. The writer, Jarlath O’Brien makes a passionate and convincing case for non inclusive education – specifically, special needs schools. I try to avoid writing about this subject, as its very close to home. My son (now […]

Educational Inequality in England by @TeacherToolkit⤴

from

Fighting the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM). Back in February 2014, I attended a council meeting to look at Raising aspirations and equal-access. After this meeting and the week I had encountered at school, I felt obligated to blog about two students in my very own place of work. Students who touched me with their … Continue reading

Raising aspirations and equal-access by @TeacherToolkit⤴

from

“The UK education system faces a range of inter-related challenges: students from non-selective state schools are under-represented at top universities; with schools increasingly accountable for progression to higher education.” (Source) Context: This week, I’ve been touched by two stories I’ve heard from my own students. Both heart-wrenching; real and poignant. But, what is moving about … Continue reading

Leading from the Middle…⤴

from @ Mimanifesto - Jaye's weblog


So do we still need teachers in this age of heutagogy? What are the necessary checks and  balances, if any, to the notion of knowledge grazing?  Sugata Mitra takes it to the extreme  with his notion of the hole in the wall computer and self organised learning environments  but is this the way education is going or is it more a case of a journey with many different  potential routes and destinations? Will there even be a final destination (in the form of an  exam or exams) in this age of lifelong learning where learning ‘bites’ can be rewarded with  badges evidencing achievement.

shutterstock_96665545 Well, I believe we still do need teachers, because society is by its nature a structural paradigm and one   of the structures underpinning society is this concept of  ‘getting an education’. We rightly value        education in present day society just as much as we ever did. It is seen as the way out of poverty in the  developing world, it is valued as a prize to be achieved. Ask most people how they obtain a better job  or status in society and they’ll tell you that doing well at school is possibly the biggest single factor  leading to such an elevation in status.  But is it still school that can deliver this? Two particular current authors of books about education certainly doubt this. Guy Claxton asks the question, what’s the point  of school?  And Clayten Christensen posits the disruptive technology paradigm, so might the more  self directed heutagogical alternative to traditional schooling be a sort of ‘disruptive technology’ to    traditional schooling?

The glue which might stick all of this together for me is formative assessment. One of the biggest influences on teachers of my generation was Dylan William and Paul Black’s work on formative assessment and the concept of Assessment for Learning, because it reminds us what great teachers can achieve, not by transmitting knowledge (of which they are not even the gatekeepers anymore) or by drilling facts into memory, or even to its most radical extent, pointing or signposting the way to set ‘versions’ of knowledge, but by directing the learner towards a path of self fulfilment and lifelong continuous achievement.

Society does need teachers and it perhaps needs to realign the concept of education to better fit an evolving understanding of the value of learning as an adjunct to development rather than the be all and end all. The days of passing exams to get through stages in education are probably coming to an end, at least in compulsory schooling. But what, if anything, do we replace them with?

pasiPasi Sahlberg, in his book, Finnish Lessons, might just point the way. In his re telling of  the story behind the success of the Finnish education system in recent years, he makes a  number of important points, but most of them can be traced back to societal shift. This,  when added to a realignment of the national structures governing education has driven  forward an agenda of huge improvement in the education (measured, it has to be said by  testing achievement in a way which is most un-Finnish: the standardised test). Trusting  teachers to assess rather than transmit knowledge has been a big driving force behind  this change. I saw this when I visited the country some years back, a focus on  continuous formative assessment forming the basis of almost every interaction between teacher and student. The professional status of the teacher in their society is high. There is much societal capital in being a teacher. It automatically conjures up the image of a highly educated child centred person in the mind of most Finns. It is something to aspire to being in the same way that being a doctor or lawyer does. The Finnish teacher education programme is built on the twin pillars of high academic achievement (masters level degree followed by excellent teacher training) and career long CPD

But it’s rather more than just having excellent qualifications and top notch training. The system is free from external ‘brakes’ to slow down learning. Such things as external inspection and examinations are a thing of the past, replaced by trust and a willingness to keep faith with this excellent foundation of good people well educated and trained for their job. . The Finns have built in agency to their system as well as capacity, in that it is continually generating improvement due to the structures in place and the recognition of its importance to the success of their country in the world.

Assessment is why we need teachers. Not examinations, or even summative assessment, but assessment for learning. We need assessment to define the route map which can be followed so that kids can direct their learning toward their goals in life. We need teachers to question them on what it is they have learned, and how well they understand it directing them back and forth through their knowledge grazing journey. Teachers are needed to help them self assess their progress, and to help them reorient where necessary, not to tell them what to learn but to show them where to go on their journey through knowledge acquisition, and more importantly, skills acquisition.

It is generally recognised that there does need to be a curriculum of sorts I believe. Children do need to be literate and numerate and more than this, to be able to recognise that learning does need to have a direction, or set if goals if it is to lead to college, training, jobs or university based careers and professions. So there is still a place for school but not perhaps as we know it, for the Finnish lesson has been the disruptive paradigm pushing a change agenda.

Formative assessment might be the disruptive paradigm to traditional instructional models of schooling, and so this traditional model of schooling should be replaced by something more akin to real education. Badges are the disruptive paradigm to examination and summative assessment.

Good formative assessment signposts the way towards valuable achievement and attainment. Good teachers recognise that this is their skill-set and their evolving role. They can direct knowledge grazing toward fresh pastures without reining it in and keeping it in exhausted fields. This type of teaching encourages skills acquisition rather than knowledge transfer which is a redundant concept in this Information Age. Those pictures of Aristotle standing holding forth to a group of enraptured students are not what school is about. Perhaps having Aristotle sitting amongst the students subtly influencing the direction of their discussions is more apt if we are to transpose the image onto a more modern day vista.

Leading from the middle perhaps?

 


Filed under: capacity-building, change, CPD, Finland, future of education, ICT, Inspection, Leadership, Quality assurance, teaching and learning Tagged: Assessment, Clayten Christensen, Dylan William, Education, Equality, formative assessment, Guy Claxton, heutagogy, Leadership, Pasi Sahlberg, PaulBlack, pedagogy, Research, Schools, teaching and learning

Stormy Monday…but it IS time⤴

from @ Mimanifesto - Jaye's weblog

This week is a momentous one for Equal marriage as the legislation finally reaches the chamber at Holyrood for its first debate. It has been a long road, particularly so for those of us who have been involved in the campaign over the past few years.  MSP’s on both sides of the argument will be honing their speeches and interventions and no doubt the media will be sharpening pencils and cranking up the cameras. From where I’m standing it certainly is a momentous week, and there will probably be many opinions aired, both written and spoken. Ruth and I have been involved in this campaign, and I apologise unreservedly to everyone who has had to watch me repeatedly throwing the wedding bouquet every time there is a news item on equal marriage on the television here in Scotland (and just to correct a point, we didn’t actually hold a ‘mock wedding’ as many in the media have termed it, but we did have a blessing on our marriage). We are fortunate to actually be married which was important for us and so keenly feel the pain of those who are unable to marry currently or unable or even unwilling to have to travel abroad to marry, as we did.

Most people who have travelled this journey on both sides of a very polarised debate have managed to remain respectful whilst debating robustly over their strongly held views. Some people, unfortunately, were not able to exercise such restraint and we have seen some particularly nasty individuals creep out from under the furniture whilst the consultative and legislative stages of this process have been polished up. I’m still involved in criminal and civil proceedings  surrounding this  (both of which are still rumbling on, and will be for sometime yet as the various processes run their respective courses in the higher courts) so I can’t comment on this at the moment. There have been some notable causalities along the way, none more so than Cardinal Archbishop Keith O’Brien (whose own homosexual advances towards other priests were uncovered) and the spokesperson of the Scottish Roman catholic Bishop’s conference, John Deighan,who rather spectacularly lost the plot, and went completely off-message whilst debating with the ever cool, calm and reasonable  Tom French from the Equality Network during a television news show.

It is absolutely not ‘homophobic’ to disagree with same sex marriage, but the abusive and derogatory language used by some people and organisations during this campaign has most definitely been beyond what anyone would term, robust debate, and that has certainly been homophobic and unacceptable in a just and equal society. Free speech carries with it a responsibility to keep within the law and those who are unable to step up to such a responsibility put themselves outside of the debate, and of relevance to the arguments taking place within the law.

One thing is for sure though. The legislation itself has received a huge amount of scrutiny and the vast majority of the legal and political opinion is that it is a good bill with completely adequate protection for those faith groups who don’t wish to celebrate same-sex marriages, as well as empowering those faith groups who do wish to be able to solemnise such marriages. Freedom of religion has to cut both ways and this legislation enables this. Churches and faith groups do not carry out marriages which are against their own belief systems and this just won’t change. Roman catholic priests don’t marry divorcees do they? And you can’t marry at a Mosque if you’re not both Muslims? Priests can refuse to marry a couple without having to give a reason (although most would) as they have freedom of conscience in this respect.

One regret, for me anyway is that individual clergy will still not be able to celebrate same sex marriages and this will undoubtedly be a cause of great sadness for a significant number of Church of Scotland ministers as well as Scottish Episcopal and Roman Catholic priests. I know that any of the clergy team at our church  would have been very happy to have been able to marry Ruth and I. So I suspect that many of these ministers and priests will simply opt out of doing weddings at all until their own particular faith groups change their own  canon laws which currently do not allow same sex marriage.

Many people have changed their views on marriage equality as this proposed change to marriage law has progressed over the months. This is perhaps in no small part due to the excellent and respectful campaign run by the Equality Network which has concentrated on facts rather than dogma and love rather than rhetoric. Stonewall Scotland  has also been involved.  If you contrast these with the scare campaigns run by, amongst others, the oddly-named Scotland for Marriage then you’ll see why so many people including a huge majority of MSP’s and all the political party leaders now support full marriage equality. The consultation exercises, contrary to what some might say, indicate that a majority of the Scottish people are in favour of this change. Professor John Curtice, one of Scotland’s foremost statisticians explains how and why this is so here.

So anyway, here are six very good reasons for  supporting same sex marriage for you undecided folks out there to ponder upon…

It has been a long road, with some bumps along the way, but the journey’s end is now thankfully in sight. And so if you’ve not yet watched it, here is the wonderful, touching, beautiful short film made by the Equality Network.

So yes, it is time…


Filed under: change, Equality, Family, homophobia, LGBT, marriage equality, Pastoral care, Personal, Same sex marriage Tagged: belief, Church, Equal marriage, Equality Network, faith, faith in marriage, freedom of speech, Gay Marriage, homophobia, It's Time, John Deighan, keith O'Brien, Marriage, religion, same sex marriage, Stonewall Scotland, Tom French