Archive for 17/12/2014

Municipal Dreams

Most people probably think of Lancaster as very much a county town but in the nineteenth century it emerged as a major industrial centre and one with typical problems of slum housing and the new imperatives to decently house its working-class.  Though the industry has gone, that legacy remains in large council estates – some excellent of their kind, some not so good – bearing the common scars of communities hard-hit by de-industrialisation.

Lord Ashton and his Lune Mills in their heyday Lord Ashton and his Lune Mills in their heyday

It was a Liberal town (it became a city in 1937), firmly led in that direction by its major employer, Lord Ashton of Williamsons’ linoleum works.  He was a benevolent employer and generous benefactor of the town – until crossed.  When an Independent Labour Party candidate almost won a seat on the borough council in 1911, Ashton sacked 30 employees who had backed the socialist candidate and rescinded wage agreements.  He…

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vineMy fifth extract from the book ‘Noah’s Children’ by Sara Stein challenges some notions of what education should be about for young children. She compares the needs of these ‘tinies’ with those of wandering vines…

‘Most vines…germinate, grow tendrils, and wave about (clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the species) until they engage support. Then…they climb upward toward the light, where, in sunlit maturity, they are able to bloom and fruit….Random exploration is essential to fulfillment of the vine’s biological program. So are the wanderings of children….

…you have experienced the wanderings of a child, and how it feels when what you have come upon suddenly makes sense. First, you wander the kames and kettles, kick sand and sink in mud, climb up and down the abruptly steep terrain, find fringed gentians, suffer poison ivy: then you reach for the fabulous coherence of glacial geography. Nothing is wrong with formal education except that we have got it backward. Children need experiences to make sense of before what we teach them can make sense. In this view, education is not something imposed from outside, but arises in children’s need for adults to arrange coherently the chaos of their perceptions.’

snow sledgingI’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the wider issues raised…

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