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The gradual but definite progress towards more normality

It has been good to continue the gradual, but definite progress towards more normality ... fixtures this last week with parents watching, some visits from next year’s joiners, the re-start of WAVPA (Whitgift Academy of Visual and Performing Arts) of course planning has to be careful, but it’s feeling more assured, which is a good thing. I suppose this is all ‘the new normal’. 

Talking to the mother of a leaver from the year before last a few days ago underlined to me how badly university students have fared this last year. When one of the great life experiences only lasts three years (hence, for most, a condensed and vivid time), to have nearly two taken away is harsh, and my own view is that universities have been more risk-averse, less courageous than schools.

But it’s still one of the great life experiences of course. And one reason is the sheer variety of people and views, which is why I’m delighted to try to share some thoughts about Higher Education (HE) with the IB leavers, as part of their post-assessment ‘mega-course’. There is an impressive amount else, from practical life skills to (HE again perhaps) how to organise a protest. 

One way not to organise a protest (in my humble opinion) is to use Twitter. My very cautious account is really only for Whitgift news, plus the occasional educational article reference, but I couldn’t resist adding to a thread led by David James (a teacher at another HMC school who writes regularly and well for the TES), discussing books now de-recommended for study on grounds of poor representation of minorities. One author thus discouraged is allegedly George Orwell, a forward-thinking humanitarian if ever there was one, and all I contributed was the thought that Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language should be read by anyone who wants to pontificate on education. Orwell argues that it’s precisely abstract waffling about -isms and using clichés that prevents people from understanding issues, obscures the truth and damages democracy. Orwell wrote better (i.e. clearer) prose than almost anyone since, and for this reason alone he should be read. 

I suspect he would have hated the phrase ‘new normal’!

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