My main idea – there aren’t many – for tomorrow (Thurs 30th, School of Education Hallowe’en Seminar) is to look at the notion of the oath suggested by practice in Singapore and by Tristram Hunt on his return from his visit there. There is plenty to look at in the history and folklore of transgression and retribution, and I hope I have the balance of fun and reflection right.

I will also note that Hunt seems to have “rowed back” from his original, rather bullish statements about an oath and a compass (see my previous post) and is now quoted as saying:

“Taking such an oath would be voluntary and would reinforce the teacher’s commitment to professional development, a symbol of their continued willingness to seek out learning opportunities to make them a better teacher for their students.”

It is, of course, possible that the original reportage was a misrepresentation of his views*.

What I would now have liked to add in (and since the presentation is already written and would require a lot of work today in time I don’t have), would be to reflect on quite what, in this largely unobjectionable vow from Singapore, exercised us all so much – and to do so by looking at what is, in effect, a plea from James Mannion in his blog that we should look at the big questions.  We do tend to look at the smaller stuff, the changeable and annoying bits that politicians present as panaeceas, when what James asks us to do is explore question such as:

  • Where lie the boundaries of current discourses around education?
  • How does this differ from educational discourses throughout history?
  • What paths in the current discourse are well-worn – and are there areas where we no longer dare tread?

He is quite right. The notion of moaning at Tristram Hunt’s proposed oath instead of asking (as James does) “If you could design an education system from the ground up – to what extent would it resemble the one we have?” maybe just reduces us to the role I am saying we dread: moaning zombies.




*NB: this quotation has been edited by me for grammar and clarity. 

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