Some Reflections on the Jubilee Centre 2019 Oriel College Conference

Students always seem to return to the same seats they chose randomly on the first day of their studies. So habits and traditions are quick to form. One of those traditions, which has long been established at Oriel, is that I say a few closing words on the final day. It is a great privilege... Continue Reading →

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Traditions at Christmas

This weekend marks the beginning of Advent and, for many, the start of the Christmas season in earnest (though I may have already indulged in an early mince pie or two and the occasional Starbucks ‘seasonal’ drink). This weekend, I’ll be putting up the tree, starting my advent calendar and looking forward to the many... Continue Reading →

Is Character all in the Genes?

A potentially serious threat to the ideas of character development and character education seems to have materialised with the publication of Robert Plomin’s much-publicised book, Blueprint (London: Allen Lane, 2018). The author has featured on BBC’s HardTalk and in a special BBC programme on character education, arguing for an extreme form of genetic determinism regarding... Continue Reading →

Happiness is a Good Book

The mental health and well being of young people is increasingly becoming an educational priority. Recognising that there is now greater awareness of the importance of good mental health in educational settings, Damian Hinds stated in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference this month that mental health education would be introduced in schools ‘over... Continue Reading →

Ofsted, Inspections, and the Turn to Character

The University of Birmingham School’s (UoBS) bespoke character education programme has been singled out for praise after the first Ofsted inspection (May, 2018). In the report, Ofsted highlighted the School’s focus on ‘character education’ and recognised that the programme ensures that leaders promote pupils’ personal development well. Ofsted go on to report that ‘the development... Continue Reading →

Leo Tolstoy, Character Educator

It is Easter Sunday. After a cold winter, the sun shines. The melting snow waters form a muddy puddle in the village street. Two girls, Malásha and Akoúlya, begin to play in their new dresses. When Malásha splashes dirty water on Akoúlya an argument ensues that soon embroils the whole village. As the fathers of... Continue Reading →

Living Within Reason

AQUINAS ON CARDINAL VIRTUES Thomas Aquinas thought that people needed to work to develop four cardinal virtues.  All four help us to keep our balance, cope with frustration and disappointment, stand up for things that matter, persevere when we are inclined to give up, and enjoy the good and beautiful things in our lives. Temperance... Continue Reading →

Trust, Teaching and Character Education

Last week, Andria Zafirakou was announced the winner of the Varkey Foundation’s annual Global Teacher prize. Over the weekend, the Guardian published an interview with her entitled ‘Best teacher in the world Andria Zafirakou: ‘Build trust with your kids – then everything else can happen’. From a character education perspective, this interview is well worth a read. In it, Zafirakou mentions the importance of... Continue Reading →

Anger begets Anger: Three Billboards and the Role of Film in Promoting Moral Reflection

!SPOILER ALERT! I recently watched the thought-provoking film, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, a movie that invites the viewer to reflect on classic ‘Western’ themes of justice and redemption, through the eyes of its righteously angry main character, Mildred Hayes. Seven months before the action begins we learn that Mildred’s daughter, Angela, had been raped... Continue Reading →

Is Human Rights the Only Moral Language We Need?

The year-long campaign in the run up to the 70th anniversary of the passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10th December 2018 was launched this January. The Declaration, which proclaims the inalienable rights associated with the status of being a human being, marked a milestone in history and, exceptionally, continues to ensure mass support across a broad political spectrum.

The Character of the Religious Educator

Religious Education teachers should have ‘a tremendous sense of humour and a hide like a rhinoceros’, wrote Bernard R Youngman in 1953. The most successful author of RE textbooks in his day, Youngman was commenting on the qualities RE teachers needed to negotiate the lowly status of RE as a curriculum subject, and the contested... Continue Reading →

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