My week

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

This week began with a walk with grandchildren in London's Highgate Woods where I was surprised how much damage the recent storm had caused.  Despite the debris (mostly oak), it was a great place to run around.

A Linkedin update the other day showed me all the skills that some of my contacts had newly developed.  These included: academia,  agriculture,  climate change,  training,  conservation issues,  environmental awareness … (it goes on).  In what sense are these “skills”?  Does Linkedin not keep an eye on what people are claiming?

I got an invitation recently (well, it was an email saying I should get an invitation ...) to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee launch of EAUC's Enabling The Future We Want: Education for Sustainable Development in the UK: a manifesto for dialogue, collaboration and action post Rio+20 – this is something that I had a vanishingly small part in developing (I commented on comma use policy, I recall).  I shall be accepting, even though I'm somewhat doubtful that the world needs another manifesto, as it will allow me to spend more time in Westminster Hall under its hammer beam roof – one of the world's great structures.

The survey on the future form and function of the National Student Survey [NSS] closed on Wednesday.  There has been a campaign from the "ESD Community" to have a question on sustainability inserted into this, and you can see why many would see this as a sound strategy as the NSS concentrates the minds of university leadership like nothing else.  My sense all along has been that QAA would be reluctant to see an explicit reference to sustainability within the survey as this is a significant act of commitment on their part.  Being part of a group that produces guidelines that no one needs to take any notice of is one thing, but sticking your head above the parapet is another.  In a similar sense, it's absolutely fine for them to say that ESD should embrace Quality, as that's not controversial (everything has to embrace their view of Quality), but they don't think it's ok to say (as I suggested they should) that Quality should embrace sustainability; that is, that thinking about Quality should come to terms with the world as it is now becoming.  More mainstream thinking on all this suggests that it's too soon for such a focus in the NSS in that the survey ought to reflect current reality, and not attempt to change it.  So much for dynamic social change.

A week ago, HEAQAA held a consultation on its draft guidelines for ESD learning outcomes.  There was considerable publicity (within the "ESD community") about this, and those lucky enough to go, got to see the draft text.  I was able to follow something of the event on Twitter – very intermittently.  The organisers felt it went well despite the fact that none of the very people the guidelines are meant for (that is, "the non-ESD community") actually turned up.  How these poor benighted folk are to be reached, let alone influenced, remains a mystery.

Thursday was Kindness Day UK, when we're asked to be kind to someone in order to make kindness a greater part of day to day life.  This seems a worthy goal, and it really is good for you, it seems.  By happy coincidence, Matthew Reisz in this week's THE asked, does bitchiness serve any useful scholarly purpose?  I'm in, typically-male (I'm told), two minds about this question: a one polite, and one not quite that.  These days, as far as individuals are concerned, I tend to try to season my scorn with pity (which is why I'm not mentioning the breathless email I got detailing what turned out to be trifling "ministerial backing for ESD".  Corporations and Quangos are quite another matter, and it was sad to see the nonsense about "new pedagogues" that emerged from the HEA a day later.

Then there was the new exhibition in Devizes of Wiltshire's gold from pre-history.  There's not much of it, but it is fine.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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