Ben Doxtdator’s blog posts are always thought provoking, well informed and carefully referenced, and this one is no exception. In this incisive blog post, he explains how the notion of “school shaming” consists of a “category error” that detracts from the real and very damaging impacts of shame on vulnerable human beings. Referencing the brilliant Brene Brown, Doxtdator explains how the very concept of shaming an institution acts as a shield for the real imposition of shame on those who can’t speak up for themselves – children – and he explores the power play behind this and other attacks on identity politics. It casts a searing, uncompromising and sometimes uncomfortable gaze on a range of phrases and ideas that ultimately act as silencing tools for people who already have too little power.
Martin wrote this blog some time ago, but I missed it and I’m glad he shared it again this week as many people on twitter mused about the nature of childhood in the maelstrom of another storm about whether children should be seen and not heard (and for some preferably not seen either). He takes a close look at a beautiful picture book (Town is by the Sea) and considers how images resonate in young minds. It’s a beautiful blog post, reminding us of the importance of making space for noticing; of revering detail; of leaving room for being a child, shaped by implicit and explicit memory. Drawing on his adult, teacher self and his own childhood memories, Martin links the then and now in a touching, fragile and intelligent reflection on memory, images, words and emotions. So while it may have been written some time ago, right now, as we are encouraged to march children, single file, heads down through their education (both metaphorically and in reality), it stands as a warning beacon to pay attention to the small things of wonder and meaning in our lives.
“Narrative is powerful, narrative is essential and narrative can shape and build the possible…” Written by the parents of Elly Chapple, Can Do Ella lifts the soul with the celebration of life in all its possibilities and forms. Ella has what many would perceive as profound learning difficulties and disabilities, but her parents flip that narrative joyfully with their reflections on the way she embraces life and learning and how seeing the world from her point of view, teaches us all about appreciation and determination. This particular blog post is lovely for the way it brings together the view of parent, carer, child and teacher as experienced through a Reading Rocks event. In flipping this narrative, we see how, if we slow down and take the care and time to look at the world in a different way, we open up all kinds of learning opportunities for young people and their families. Follow this blog. It will make you rejoice.
Claire Birkenshaw made the news when she was the first headteacher to undergo gender transition in the UK. And that sentence in itself presents some of the problems she grapples with in her blog post in terms of time and the right to claim an identity. “Making the news” in itself is a point in time as is “first” and in her post, Claire grapples not only with the need for us to support, recognise and fight for the rights of the transgender child, but she also questions the professional labels we place on each other and the means by which we include or exclude each other from belonging to a professional group, regardless of experience. As she comes to terms with reactions to her role as a “former” headteacher, and how the “not nowness” of her leadership experience seems to exclude her from the debate, she reflects on how groups treat others across society and time. She makes a timely and intelligent plea for all educators, whatever their current roles, to pull together to protect minority students – indeed all students – from political forces that seek to homogenise and silence others.