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Bitter Strawberries

     Farm work is one of the best jobs for getting to know people as they really are. The First Job and the Sweetest Sylvia Plath’s first job was on a farm in the summer of 1950. I am […] 

The Reason Why: Digging into Cause and Effect

When it comes to school improvement – or the fine art of problem finding and solution seeking – it’s always best to try and get everyone involved in the process. It’s a way to develop co-ownership of the culture and […] 

My gaze is clear as a sunflower

Paul Nash’s fascination with aerial bombardment led him to an ecstatic vision of “the sky blossoming with floating flowers”. This, and William Blake’s poem “Ah Sunflower”, inspired his late paintings, in which an airborne sunflower glides over imagined landscapes. Nash […] 

Saplings

I’m not giving anything away by quoting the deep irony of the last lines of Saplings: Turns you over, don’t it, to think of the children? I was saying to my daughter only yesterday, we got a lot to be […] 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge… At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. – Jawaharlal […] 

Partition

“I was so rushed I had not time to go into the details,”  – Cyril Ratcliffe. The political leaders of the independence movement in British india were unable to agree on a united post-colonial future. The result was a plan […] 

Under the Radar: The Hedge Hoppers and the Hardest Day

After early mist the morning of Sunday August 18 1940 was bright with clear skies. It came to be known as the hardest day in the Battle of Britain. The detail from Diana Gardner’s wood engraving makes it seem like […] 

The Land Girl

The land army fights in the fields. It is in the fields of Britain that the most critical battle of the present war may well be fought and won. –  Lady Denman, the Director of the Women’s Land Army, WW2 […] 

Choosing books by the cover

I once worked in a school where the librarian arranged the non-fiction by the color of the spine. It made for some serendipitous browsing. He was a friendly fellow with a big bushy beard, a scholarly demeanor and who claimed […] 

August 1914

August 1914 What in our lives is burnt In the fire of this? The heart’s dear granary? The much we shall miss? Three lives hath one life – Iron, honey, gold. The gold, the honey gone – Left is the […] 

MCMXIV

MCMXIV Those long uneven lines Standing as patiently As if they were stretched outside The Oval or Villa Park, The crowns of hats, the sun On moustached archaic faces Grinning as if it were all An August Bank Holiday lark; […] 

The Good Life

Did you have times like these in your life? Times that you look back on with a sense of loss even though they weren’t exactly easy? Times that were tough but carefree enough that you recall them with nostalgia? Maybe […] 

The Golf Links

The Manumit School was an experimental Christian socialist boarding school in Pawling, NY. and later Bristol, Pennsylvania. Manumit means freedom slavery and this was a school with a clear mission. It was racially integrated, religiously tolerant and worked “toward a world order […] 

Ballad of the Three Spectres

In Ivor Gurney’s nightmarish vision, the dead among the living bear dire warnings and mockery. Ballad of the Three Spectres As I went up by Ovillers In mud and water cold to the knee, There went three jeering, fleering spectres, […] 

A Guide to the Agony and Opportunity of School Right-sizing

Those of us who were heads of school in 2008-9 probably remember all too well the pain of school downsizing and some may still bear the scars to show for it. It was a tough time all round. And that’s […] 

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