Twelve posts from my first year of blogging

Twelve posts from my first year of blogging

A year after this blog (re)started, I thought I’d share a dozen of my favourite posts. A mixture of those that were most read and most commented on at the time (on here or on Facebook/Twitter) as well as a few of my personal favourites.

In chronological order:

  1. “Have had enough of experts…”: An attempt to find common ground A look at why Leave voters may legitimately share a sceptisism in some cases of experts who have very different backgrounds and values to them, by analogy to other cases of unconscious bias.
  2. Initial Hypothesis: The Game of Teaching Excellence: Still the most viewed post on this site, my fully playable card game based on the TEF. Collect a complete set of metrics, gain kudos from Wonkhe articles and recruit well-known characters to help your assessment.
  3. Some Thoughts on the Culture Wars: How the socially progressive side shifted from fighting for free expression to seeking to suppress it, and why it now seems to many that the choice not to fight the culture wars simply means losing by default.
  4. Grade Inflation: A Clear and Present Danger: An article for Wonkhe setting out how grade inflation is endemic in our universities – and what might be done to fix it.
  5. A Tourist’s Guide to New Orleans: Written for a friend who was visiting and based on over 30 visits, a summary of all that’s good to see, eat and do in New Orleans.
  6. Postmodernism and the Devil: How postmodernism and moral relativism, by systematically undermining the concept of absolute truth, opened the way for the post-truth era and Donald Trump. The title refers to the famous scene in A Man for All Seasons.
  7. A Better Secondary School History Curriculum: A thought experiment setting out what it would be great to cover in secondary school history. I got Brexit-post levels of anger for this one, from some people outraged that I could suggest something that might stretch pupils and from others who thought it appalling that anyone could think ‘knowledge’ (what was covered) was worth considering, rather than just skills, which I think says all you need to know about our educational system.
  8. Endless Surrenders: Why do both the left and the right feel they’re continually losing the political struggle? No easy answers here, just thoughts and ideas.
  9. We Must Recapture the Commanding Heights of Society from the Left: A Conservative Home piece looking at how conservatism lost our social institutions, and what we might do to win them back.
  10. £9,250 Tuition Fees: Bad for Students, Bad for Society and Bad for the Conservative Party: Another Conservative Home piece, this time looking at the way high university tuition fees were based on a fiscal illusion – and, if maintained, will destroy the Conservatives as surely as they did the Liberal Democrats, if more slowly.
  11. No Car is Better than a Bad Car: An analogy demonstrating how the decision by Remain-supporting MPs to rule out No Deal destroyed any hope of securing a good deal in the Brexit negotiations.
  12. On Leaving the Civil Service: A lengthy, and somewhat personal account, of why I decided to leave the civil service and become politically active.

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2 thoughts on “Twelve posts from my first year of blogging

  1. Hi Iain,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and it’s amazing to see it’s been resumed for a year already. For a future post, I’d be really interested to read your thoughts about how far the government should go to support increased social equality. Meritocracy and equal access to opportunity are such dominant themes in our political discourse at the moment, and I’d appreciate your reflections on how sigificant and problematic social inequality currently is in the UK, how effective you think recent and current policies have been at levelling the playing field for the disadvanted in our schools, universities and workplaces, whether current definitions and understandings of “disadvantage” are accurate and adequate, and whether you think a more interventionist approach is advisable (quotas for universities and/or certain professions? removing charitable status for private schools? greater tilting of funding for education and training to disadvantaged areas?).
    I think there’s an interesting link between these questions and the Brexit debate, insofar as I think that the terms of the debate are often couched in the “anywhere” language of high salaries, fulfilling careers, strong academic achievement etc, and that thinking about these issues through a “somewhere” lens (good quality jobs available locally, strong local social networks, good quality training and education available near where you were born and grew up rather than just in the elite centres of education which require moving away from home) give the whole debate a somewhat different appearance, and again I’d be interested in your views.

    1. That’s a really good question, and an answer that probably requires more than one post in response! You’re right that I should write about it at some point.

      As a very brief reply, one thing I feel to be true is that the vast majority of the social mobility debate is focused too narrowly on support for the most disadvantaged. While of course that’s important, institutions and structures that support ‘ordinary working people’ (B/C1/C2/D in socioeconomic terms) are at best neglected, and at worst actively undermined, in a way that indirectly props up and maintains the status of the elite. This is a trend that seems to hold true across a whole host of policy areas.

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