The Ideas Hour – Half way there

I am writing this in the run-in to The Ideas Hour edition with Mick Waters and Tim Brighouse. It will be broadcast tomorrow, Saturday 2nd at 2.00 pm, but we plan to make it available until everyone in the education universe has heard it. I think it is that good, but I do accept that I am utterly and absolutely biased.

For me, very few people in education bring hope in the way that Tim and Mick do. Despite a combined age somewhere north of 150 and having made massive contributions to policy, practice and to the benefit of pupils and teachers, and despite many of these contributions being undermined by more recent education developments, they keep coming back, a bit like Rocky. For anyone unfamiliar with the analogy, here’s the link Celebrate it the deadly educational duo are not going to be linked with Mr Stallone on any sort of regular basis.

When they do come back they do it with energy, empathy, insight, curiosity and with a positive vision for a better future for schools and all those who learn and work in them. That’s what they do in the programme.

I am really proud to have the chance to work with them and with my co-host Suzanne Zeedyk. For anyone not aware of Suzanne, you can check out her website here

We are on a mission to give as many people as possible the opportunity to hear big ideas which can challenge and develop thinking. Our first guest was Joan Smith . Joan is a timely and powerful voice who is challenging much of the current thinking about terrorism. She clearly links the genesis of involvement in extremism and violence to childhood experiences, domestic violence and misogyny. She is reminding us starkly that we cannot solve problems that we don’t understand. Our second was Simon Partridge who might describe himself as a “boarding school survivor” 

Simon asked the questions that we all need to ask. If less than 1% of us attend boarding school, why do we have a Cabinet where over a third of them did? 

What impact did their experience have on them and, even more importantly what imoact does that have on the rest of us?

I hope that you will get the chance to listen to these programmes if you haven’t already. They will make you think and that matters to us. Both Suzanne and I worry that there is too little genuine debate in our society. Too often, fixed positions are adopted and then defended. Important voices are silenced. Too many people live in echo chambers where they only engage with opinions that they already held.

The world needs curiosity, consideration and compassion. We need to think more and better. We need to engage with each other.

I do realise that this all sounds a bit ambitious for an hour of radio and that I may be coming across as suffering from a Messianic complex. That is not without, at least, a grain of truth, so feel free to avoid me in lifts or other enclosed spaces, but give the programme a chance.

After Mick and Tim we have another three programmes recorded. They are as diverse as The Witches of Scotland and what Charles Darwin really said. Both these programmes were remarkable for me. The Witches programme goes way beyond Macbeth and takes us into issues of how write history, what do we commemorate and how should we commemorate, into prejudice and belief and more. Our Darwin programme tackles real fundamentals about human nature, whether we are essentially competitive, a belief at the heart of so much of our current politics, or cooperative. 

We round off, what we hope will be, our first series, with the remarkable Darcia Narvaez taking a wonderfully holistic view of how we raise children and be families and, as with all these programmes shedding light on so much more.

Every programme is a conversation, but all of them are based around three key questions –

  • What is the big idea?
  • Why does it matter so much now?
  • What does it mean for education policy, schools, teachers and learners?

They are all related to practice in some way, but there are no recipes or guides. There are, we hope, stimulus and springboards. 

We think that education and how we support  families and children are at the heart of how we create our society and how we keep remaking it when history takes some of its darker turns. That makes you really important people. You deserve access the most interesting thinking. We just hope we have found a compelling and entertaining way to bring that to you.