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Jenny was an average person.   She had friends, played baseball, loved her cat, did her homework, at least most of the time, and sat at any lunch table she liked.  She minded her own business and o…

Source: Jenny Smith…Short story about bullies | Rethinking Life

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Stunning literary find: under the floorboards of a room at Christchurch College, Oxford, an electrician has found a manuscript thought to have been written by ‘Lewis Carroll’ (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Some of it is hard to decipher and it’s clearly incomplete. Here’s one passage:

“Come in,’ said a woman in a loud voice.
Alice walked in to a large room at the Compartment of Edification.
Sitting in front of her, staring into the middle distance was the Blue Queen.
‘How old are you?’ said the Blue Queen.
‘I’m seven years old,’ said Alice politely.
Sitting next to the Queen was the Gibblet.
‘Seven?’ said the Gibblet, ‘Seven? Test her.’
‘Test her,’ said…

Source: Michael Rosen


Michael Rosen, Writer

This article by the British children’s author, Michael Rosen, is marginally off-topic but I believe it should be read by everyone in light of what’s happening in the UK and around the planet. If I’m reading it correctly, it’s a ‘call-to-arms’ for us to think in different ways about the world around us in the hope that we can change the limiting structures and hierarchies that have been in place for centuries, and by doing so, enable better, happier and more satisfying lives for every person. Something has to give, that’s for sure, or we will be wedged forever in a universe where the poor become poorer and the rich richer, surrounded by a landscape devoid of meaningful culture.

Incidentally, if you haven’t already read and shared Michael Rosen’s books with  your children, you’re missing a trick. My favourite is You’re Thinking About Doughnuts.


1. In the place that gets called ‘left-of-Labour’ or the ‘radical left’ or the ‘alternative left’, there have been all sorts of shifts and realignments. This is not as new as it looks. They happen all the time. The big ones happen when the most vociferous, most successful of the groupings goes through a crisis.

2. The real crisis for the ‘radical left’ is that we have failed to dent the politicians-media agreement about how to present the economic crisis. This agreement runs something like this: some bankers did some silly things…the result was a lot of debt and a credit squeeze…Labour did some silly things…the only way out of it is for government to spend less…this means that we must all agree that to save our skins, we must cut public spending…and we must freeze or cut wages…the only people who can be trusted to do this are the Tories.

3. We know that this is a hoax. Even quite right-wing politicians like Alan Johnson call it a ‘fat lie’. In fact, there are several lies. The bankers (and all the other financiers) weren’t just naughty. They smashed up big sections of the system that enables capitalism to operate. Through our governments’  actions all over the world, we have been taxed to keep that system solvent. Through our governments’ actions we have lost large sections of our welfare, education and cultural institutions – hospitals, schools, social services, benefits. Through our governments’ actions, people’s wages have been cut and/or people put out of work.

4. While this has been going on, the super-rich, the hyper-rich have got richer. The main reason why they have got richer is because the ‘cost’ of employing people has gone down. I say ‘cost’ in inverted commas, because it’s only a ‘cost’ from the point of view of those who employ. For everyone else it’s their ‘income’ or ‘spending power’. People don’t see themselves as a ‘cost’ nor should they!

5. So, ‘austerity’ is in fact, a realignment, a shuffling. It’s the means by which the poor stay poor (or are made poorer) and the rich to stay rich (or get richer). It’s nothing to do with the money that Labour did or did not borrow during its time in power. It’s entirely to do with the decisions that are made by financiers, finance ministers and giant corporations. Having taken risks that failed (on a massive scale, involving all sorts of gigantic fiddles and cons), they are trying to claw back solvency through making the mass of people work for less money and have much less by way of public services and benefits.

6. The ‘radical left’ has been saying this throughout the time of the crisis. However, we haven’t dented the consensus. This argument is hardly ever heard. Or, when it’s heard, very little happens. There are of course sporadic and brave efforts by people to defend jobs, wages and services. But, if we are ruthless and honest with ourselves, what has happened is that this hasn’t spread far and wide. It hasn’t become ‘generalised’, as the jargon has it.

7. And, just as importantly, it hasn’t enabled us all to see clearly that ‘wealth’ isn’t really what turns up in the figures on bankers’ computer screens. It isn’t even really ‘money’. Wealth is what we make and do with our minds and bodies. We work in places made with the past effort of the minds and bodies of our forbears. All the machines and infrastructure that enable goods and services to be produced and pass between us are made through…

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A beautiful and heartfelt evocation of growing up in the East End of London in the 1950s and ’60s, written by Pete Johnsonwith the rose-tinted spectacles removed.


Originally posted on beetleypete:

With apologies to Marcel Proust for stealing his title, I confess to a lot of time spent in remembrance of things past. Not just lately, but for much of my life. Even as a man in my twenties, I constantly reflected on my childhood, and my early school years, developing a habit of looking back that I never lost. I was caught up in a chain of nostalgia, from which I found it difficult to escape. When I got to secondary school, I pined for my primary school, and less pressure. Once I left school and started work, I really regretted leaving education, and thought about those last few years at school with great fondness. Every job seemed better than the one that followed it, and I managed to conveniently forget my reasons for wanting to move on in the first place.

During a convivial dinner party that we were…

View original 1,063 more words

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


In an age when our educational system is in disarray, Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert, is the shining light at the end of the tunnel — if we did but listen. Or, rather, if those like the UK’s Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and his ilk stopped their dangerous, interfering nonsense and listened to Sir Ken’s wise analysis and started working towards the ways in which education could truly benefit every single human being, no matter what their supposed talents or supposed lack thereof.

Education has never been perfect. When I was at school in the ’60s and ’70s, it was fairly mundane and never really brought out the best in any of us but it was a great deal better than it is now, from the sound of things, and we were able to go out into the world with some basic skills, if not much else.

The following video is a beautifully animated version of a talk given by Sir Ken for the RSA that shows exactly how the system, from the beginning, was bound to fail the majority of people passing through it, and how a completely different approach is the only way to stop the rot.

With thanks to Rethinking Life for alerting me to the talk and the accompanying video.

Related

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


“Study the past if you would define the future.” Confucius

I must be mad — don’t all shout at once! It’s not as if I have nothing to do but I couldn’t resist starting another blog.  The subject is History, one of my passions. It was the urging of TV producer-turned-writer, A L Berridge, that tipped me over the edge!

Knowing our history, personal and public, is vital if we are to come anywhere near improving our future. The past is littered with mistakes made by everyone. If we don’t learn from history, we cannot safeguard and improve our future.  It seems the human race is more able to realise this on a personal level than a public one. Or perhaps it’s simply that if a person’s trajectory leads to public office, the trappings turn them into selfish individuals, the I’m-alright-Jack, I-can-avoid-the-same-mistakes-without-checking-my-history types. I’m generalising but I’m sure you get my drift.

And then, of course, there’s the UK Education Secretary, Michael Gove, who seems intent on turning the learning of History into a glorious-battle-over-the-underdogs by rote. That path leads us nowhere.

Although I will be writing the odd article for First Night History, it will consist primarily of re-blogs and, I hope, an occasional commissioned post.

Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.” Winston Churchill

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Winston Churchill

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


And this is what I came up with for Back to School.  Click on the mousepad to see a larger view and read!

My Brain is Full Up Mouse Pad

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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