Mike Amos-Simpson of the late Breakfast Show blog is one of the most consistent and serious contributors in the Youth Work blogosphere, which doesn’t stop him having a laugh from time to time. Thus he enticed me into the world of  Wordles !

Rightly you ask, what the hell’s a Wordle? Well, as they say,  a Wordle is worth a thousand words, so here’s a Critically Chatting Wordle for your delight.


If you want to know more, fancy playing yourself go to Wordle



I’m sure it’s politically incorrect to say this, but the present-day obsession with ‘being safe’ makes me want to jump off a cliff – except I’ve no head for heights so I wouldn’t take the risk. On the broad level it’s deeply patronising and insulting to all pre-New Labour teachers and youth workers, who evidently in the past didn’t give a jot about children’s and young people’s well-being. In retrospect  my often spontaneous decision in 1968 to take my class of  nine year olds for a walk in the lovely Borsdane Wood at the back of the school was an act of criminal irresponsibility. This is not to mention that I walked hand- in- hand with almost all the boys and girls in the class at one time or another, which seen through contemporary eyes raises doubts about my sexuality.  As it was we did have the regular termly visit from the local policeman, who warned us not to speak to strangers, which was always a problematic piece of advice. Its underlying mistrust jarred with overwhelming evidence that friendly strangers were nice folk and that the people, if any, to be afraid of were in the family or in the church. But I digress, although at some moment I’d like to pursue these issues further, more carefully, with youth work in mind.

Whatever my concerns, it’s refreshing to see Tim Davies confronting the question of E-safety, from the point of view of  Moving from restrictions and messages to critical questions.

‘Later this month the House of Lords will be spending two and a half hours discussing young people and social networking sites in a debate initiated by Lord Toby Harris. As Shane McCracken has pointed out, a focus on “the adequacy of safeguards to protect [young people’s] privacy and interests” risks as debate leading towards legislation to restrict and control how social network sites function or young people’s use of them. However, even if Shane’s more hopefuly scenario of “increased awareness about the need to educate young people and parents about internet privacy issues” results, we could still end up heading in the wrong direction.

Far too often e-safety education places it’s focus on communicating ’safety messages’ which are either counter-intuitive to the active social network using young person (’don’t share any personal information online’) or which end over-detailed, complex or in contradiction with the way social network sites operate (’use a nick name’ – ‘but it asks for a real name’). Plus, being aware of a safety message and putting its content into practice are two very different things.

In a project I’ve been working on for the Brent Local Safeguarding Children Board E-Safety Subcommittee we’ve tried to explore how, instead of a focus on safety messages, we can use critical questions* to structure education about safe use of social media, whilst promoting the opportunities that new technologies offer at the same time. Using a critical questions approach can enable professionals to facilitate young people’s own exploration of safe and effective uses of new media, without the professional needed to be a new-media expert.’

Follow Tim’s argument here on his February 4th posting.


Being a crust short of a pie

At first they came for the smokers but I did not speak out as I did not smoke. Then they came for the binge drinkers but I said nothing as I did not binge. Now they have an obesity strategy.’

So begins what is probably my favourite blog, ‘Fat Man at a Keyboard’, the creation of Peter Ryley who works in the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Hull and which is described as both an ego-trip and work avoidance strategy. He is an experienced adult educator, a researcher into the history of Anarchism, a Graecophile, a lover of rugby league and real ale – sounds pretty promising given my predilections! Although I suspect we’d have some smashing political rows over a few jugs of local village wine!  What is almighty impressive is the breadth and regularity of his postings.

Thus, linked intimately to our concerns, he draws our attention to a damning indictment of New Labour’s policy on lifelong learning by Alison Wolf in January’s Adult Learning. In Peter’s words, she has long questioned the deterministic assumptions about the link between economic growth and educational qualifications. Here she takes on the stifling narrowness of the government’s thinking and its limitation of human possibilities.

The virtues of ‘lifelong learning’ may trip off every minister’s tongue, and launch countless speeches, but the only sorts of adult learning which actually have legitimacy, or are seen as deserving of support, are those which make people do their current jobs better.

She concludes,

If we want to stop, and reverse, the destruction of adult education perhaps we have to start here; with the mysterious fact that our concept of education is more narrow and impoverished than any previous generation. Change that, and the rest will follow.

Read more  here .


Thence he turns his attention to an issue central to the existence of anyone, who hails from the Wigan area in the North-West of England- PIES! Evidently new government guidelines are intent on cutting the amount of crust on a pie. Now Wigginers are notoriously conservative, but such interference with the essence of  our identity could spell big trouble for somebody. Indeed we could start chucking proper pies with thick crusts at passing politicians. Beware a Wigginer scorned! Now, if you are a youth worker in Wigan this must come up in conversation with young people. It could light rebellion! For surely it’s not just Wigginers, who adore a proper pie?!

Find the Fat Man here

Published in: on February 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Just to say sorry that my Wordle is a bit of a disaster. I couldn’t make it any bigger, which rather undermines the idea!

  2. I like the sound of that village wine

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