Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Progress with Manual for Teachers

I have written 16000 words of the manual for teachers. The introduction now reads like this:

If you were trying to find out how to clean a teapot, the chances are that you would go to someone who had cleaned a lot of teapots successfully. If you want to know how to dance, wouldn't you go to a dancer? Yet when you want to learn about teaching you often find yourself in the rarified realms of some ivory-towered academic.

So this is not a book of educational theory, or pedagogy to give it its Sunday name. My only qualifications are:

1. 32 years of successful teaching.

2. Running a helpline for stressed teachers on behalf of the West Sussex Teachers' Association for 16 years.

3. Founder member of Classroom Teacher http://classroomteacher.org.uk

And of course the one thing anybody can tell you is that teachers are idiosyncratic. In the end you have to teach your way not mine. But listen to an old master – learn from my mistakes then you can make your own!

“Taking ownership of your pedagody” is what they call it. I would caution you to avoid the word “pedagogy” around Sun readers. They will have burnt your house down before they have looked in the dictionary and found out it is not the same as “paedo”

The book is arranged in alphabetical order. It seemed like a good idea at the time but then it took me ages to decide what to put under “Z” I can tell you.

A note on grammar

I will state this now, before it irritates you. I have used “they” and “them” in place of “his or her” and “him and her”.

I could quite grammatically have used “him” but when well over half of teachers are female that is ridiculous. I could have used “her” thus excluding myself from the teaching profession.

I opted for something which is grammatically incorrect. I don't intend to cite Shakespeare as my authority for this. Shakespeare did so many things to the language that you can only get away with if you are Shakespare! (He spelt his name several ways too).

I will cite Jane Austen: Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, the King James Bible, Dean Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, Frances Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith, Henry Fielding, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, William Makepeace Thackeray, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Mrs. Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, John Ruskin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman, Bernard Shaw, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, W. H. Auden,  George Orwell, and C. S. Lewis.

I refer the reader who is really really interested to the website http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/austheir.html

Derek McMillan

Friday, February 24, 2012

Welcome to your police station!

The writer Nevil Shute advised a young American from the southern states that the safest place to evade racial attack and abuse in England was a police station.

This has never been a very convincing assertion but with Group 4 Security becoming the first firm to run a police station it may become even less so. G4S have controversially been given a £200 million deal to build and run a police station in Lincolnshire. They hope it will be the first of many and the death of the existing police service.

Jimmy Mubenga was "restrained" by G4S officers whilst being deported in 2010 and the result of their restraint was that he died.

Gareth Myett, a 15 year old boy, died in G4S custody in 2004.

Even the home office seems to have noticed a problem here and reportedly "warned" G4S about their dangerous methods of restraint. However the warning must have fallen on deaf ears because it came in 2006 i.e. *between* the two deaths.

Campaigners in Western Australia believe G4S should stand trial for murder over the death of an aboriginal elder, Mr Ward. Instead the G4S employee responsible was merely fined. Mr Ward had died while being transported in a stifling prison van at a temperature of 55 degrees. You can see that G4S will put health and safety at the top of their agenda.

Privatisation of policing is even opposed by the Police Federation who have not been in the forefront of campaigners against deaths in custory in the past. They can see that a privatised police service "may not have the same level of public duty and dedication as current police force staff."

Privatised police stations, schools and hospitals. The pattern is clear enough. Unfortunately the Coalition can always point to the Labour Party as the originators of their most odious policies. A party of the working class would oppose this.

Unison leadership found guilty of “unjustifiable discipline” against four Socialist Party activists.

Once again, the Unison leadership has been found guilty of "unjustifiable" disciplinary action against four activists for producing a leaflet protesting about the exclusion of resolutions from the 2007 Unison conference.

Today an Employment Appeal Tribunal (Judge Michael Supperstone QC) upheld the unanimous judgment of an earlier Employment Tribunal (Employment Judge Ms H Grewal, 27 January 2011).

That ET judgment last year rejected false allegations of racism against the four and found that the real reason for disciplinary action was that they had issued a leaflet criticising the Standing Orders Committee and the union leadership of preventing discussion on issue of union democracy.

Today's EAT rejects all five grounds on which the Unison leadership appealed against last year's ET judgment.

The four activists who were disciplined by Unison were banned from holding any union office for up to three years. The four are Glenn Kelly (formerly Bromley branch secretary and NEC member), Onay Kasab (formerly Greenwich branch secretary), Brian Debus (formerly Hackney branch chairperson), and Suzanne Muna (formerly Housing Corporation branch secretary).

The judgments of the ET and the EAT completely vindicate the four's struggle to defend union democracy. The unjustified sanctions against the four are part of a wider witch-hunt being carried out by the Unison leadership against activists fighting for union democracy and effective action to defend public services, jobs, pay and conditions. There is now a rising tide of discontent within the union at the ineffective policies of the leadership when faced with a tsunami of attacks on the public sector.

The Unison leadership unscrupulously tried to bolster their disciplinary charges with allegations of racism. This related to a cartoon on the leaflet protesting about the Standing Orders Committee's suppression of over 50 resolutions that used the well-known image of three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

The ET judgment forcefully rejected the allegation of racism: "All four Claimants are committed anti-racists and have fought against racism. They quite reasonably assumed that anyone who saw the leaflet would understand the cartoon to be saying that the SOC was out of touch in closing its minds to and ignoring issues that concern the membership."

"Looking at the context in which the cartoon was used (i.e. to depict the attitude of the SOC towards controversial motions) it cannot be said that any reasonable person would or should have realised that it would cause racial offence, and that not doing so was somehow 'careless'. That is reinforced by the fact that [it] never occurred to many people who saw the cartoon before its publication. These individuals included an Equalities and Diversity officer and black members."

Incredibly, during the case, it was discovered that Unison's own lawyers had used a cartoon of the three wise monkeys.

The tribunal found that the main reason for disciplinary action against the four was that they produced a leaflet criticising the SOC for rejecting a large number of branch resolutions.

It is estimated that the Unison leadership must have spent at least £100,000 on the disciplinary hearings and tribunal cases. At a time when the focus should have been on fighting public-sector cuts, the four have been dragged through four years of tortuous, money-wasting investigations and hearings.

Glenn Kelly, one of the four, is demanding that the witchhunts must stop,and the four branches taken out of regional administration so that the members can run their branches.  Also that the bans on the four should be rescinded and the latest charge against Glenn should be withdrawn.

Glenn  urges UNISON to fight the Condem government instead of hard working union activists.


For more info phone: 07595352795

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh no they killed Scroogle!

Google has killed off Scroogle . That sounds more like a children's TV story than anything else. 

In fact the big bad Google search engine has been very annoyed for some years with an independent non-profit web service called Scroogle. Scroogle's crime was to offer Google searches without the ads and without Google getting all your personal details on file as they are wont to do. Google tried an imaginative array of dirty tricks against Scroogle. They sought in the US courts to have it declared illegal but even their million-dollar lawyers weren't up to that trick. They then blocked all the Scroogle computers from using Google at all.

Not long ago, Google changed its privacy policy to give itself more liberties with user data. Consequently search volume increased on Scroogle.

Microsoft even blocked anybody using the word "scroogle.org" from MSN messenger. Now Google and Microsoft are supposedly rivals but the corporations will always hang together against anything quite so un-American as blocking adverts.  

The final straw came with a series of "denial of service attacks" on Scroogle by person or persons unknown.  But surely someone else will come up with a similar way of thwarting the dreaded Google! Meanwhile here is a good object lesson for anyone who thinks capitalism equates with freedom of choice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trade Unionists and Socialists in London elections

Martin Powell-Davies (NUT) is standing on 3rd May to support 

the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Education is under attack from this Government: budgets are cut, schools facing forced privatisation, workload at intolerable levels - yet young teachers are told they should work until they’re 68!

But, shamefully, New Labour's leadership won't oppose these attacks: Ed Balls won’t reverse cuts, Stephen Twigg supports Free Schools , Ed Milliband opposes trade unionists striking to defend their pensions.

Teachers know they can’t just fight cuts and privatisation through trade union action alone. We also need political representatives that will speak out in support of union policies. 

The London Assembly elections on May 3rd provides a great opportunity to elect candidates who will stand out against the pro-cuts consensus from all the main parties.
An excellent list of trade unionist and socialist campaigners has now been agreed to stand in the London-wide list section. It has a real chance to succeed in electing at least one assembly member. This would be a real breakthrough for everyone who wants to defend education and public services from cuts and privatisation.

The list will be headed by Alex Gordon, National President of the RMT Union. I am also proud to be part of the list of candidates and pledge my full support to the campaign.

As Alex Gordon has said in the latest TUSC Press Release: (http://www.tusc.org.uk/press160212.php)

“We believe ordinary Londoners should have the choice of an alternative to the political consensus in favour of public spending cuts, privatisation and pay freezes advocated by all the three main parties. Recent statements by Labour Party leaders that in government they would not reverse Tory/Lib Dem spending cuts confirms that they do not offer working-class people an alternative and cannot be a viable opposition to the attacks on our communities and our public services.”


The full list will be:
Alex Gordon, president of RMT will head the list.
Nick Wrack, TUSC national committee
April Ashley, Unison executive, representing black women members
Sian Griffiths, FBU women's committee
Steve Hedley, RMT London organiser
Ian Leahair, FBU national committee member
Gary McFarlane, anti-racist activist
Martin Powell-Davies, executive member for Inner London of the NUT
Merlin Reader, CWU London committee
Joe Simpson, assistant general secretary of the POA
Jenny Sutton, UCU (FE) London committee
Nancy Taaffe, library worker made redundant, former chair Waltham Forest Unison
Jackie Turner, doctor and health campaigner
Lee Vernon, Young Members convenor for London PCS
Lesley Woodburn, unemployed, Unite rep on SERTUC LGBTQ committee 

Candidates are in a personal capacity 

Public rally to launch London TUSC GLA campaign: 
Speakers: Bob Crow, TUSC candidates, plus others to be announced. If you live in London come along and get involved… Wednesday 21 March, 7.15pm at 235 Shaftesbury Avenue London WC2H 8EP

Get involved
If you live in London and want to get involved in the campaign, e-mailtuscbulletin@yahoo.co.uk with your borough.