Nick Grant

A class traitor?

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I recently read Stephen Jay Gould's essay on "Natural Selection and the Human Brain", from his collection, The Panda's Thumb.

It outlines the rift between Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace on this question, one which persists as the key ideological battleground between science and religion today, and accounts for recent polls suggesting that no more than a quarter of Britain's population "believe" in Darwinism.

In Gould's explanation Wallace was an arch-proponent of what we now call "intelligent design" the notion that Darwin did god a massive favour by demonstrating the coherence of his grand and beautiful works.

Che: Part One

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Director Steven Soderbergh; Release date: out now

In 1960 Cuba's rebel leaders were fighting for their political lives, a year after ousting US stooge President Batista.

Sabotage took many forms. On 5 March the arms-laden La Coubre exploded in Havana dock, killing hundreds. At the next day's funeral gathering a young photographer, Alberto Korda, captured an image that would become one of the century's greatest.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara's portrait spoke volumes to subsequent generations and was reproduced billions of times worldwide.

Third rate artist

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Sorry, Colin Wilson, but the "impoverished and philistine view we should reject" concerning the over-hyped and utterly derivative painter, Francis Bacon, is yours, not Tom Davies (Feedback, Socialist Review, December 2008).

You rightly cite Leon Trotsky's benchmark thoughts on art being something, like science, which should be judged by its own truths. Then you go on to suggest that, "The twisted male bodies also relate to Bacon's homosexuality. All sex between men was illegal until 1967. Many gay men, including Bacon, internalised this."

Marxism and Educational Theory

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Mike Cole, Routledge £24.99

Politicians may have screwed up our communities with their wars, privatisations and diminished civil liberties. But it seems that public servants are legally obliged to clean up the consequent mess of poverty and despair. From September 2008 Ofsted will be inspecting your local school to see how well staff are doing with the task of achieving Community Cohesion.

Weightless Stone

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Review of "World Trade Center", Director: Oliver Stone

At the corner of 207th Street and Broadway, Inwood, at the very northern tip of Manhattan Island stands the Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd. On its exterior there is a starkly modernist version of the customary crucifix. It is formed from the jagged and rusted remnants of two intersecting girders from the World Trade Centre.

Look again at the street sign and you will find that this short stretch has been rechristened "Inwood Heroes of 9/11" because this area was home to hundreds of stricken New York firefighters.

Masterful Montage

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Review of 'Notre Musique', director Jean-Luc Godard

As a modernist simultaneously challenging the conventions of both society and cinema, veteran French cine-artist Jean-Luc Godard has produced this short but dense work, which rewards the multiple viewings afforded by the DVD format.

A Summer to Celebrate

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It's such a shame that Andrew Stone was so wide of the mark when writing about the Ashes cricket this summer (September SR).

As a player himself he inexplicably neglected what can only have been his admiration for the highest class of sporting drama unfolded over six weeks, in favour of an irrelevant sequence of hackish apartheid-era soundbites. For crissake - Shane Warne is cricket's Maradona or Pele. Andrew Flintoff is the new Ian Botham.

Another Education is Possible

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A recent conference discusses alternative ways of learning.

Part of the collateral damage from two Blair governments has been the inversion of commonsense terms to mean their opposite. 'Invasion' of another country becomes 'liberation'. 'Choice' in public services means no such thing when it comes to how schools organise themselves. 'Literacy' becomes a deadening chore.

The straitjacket of the National Curriculum has students trying to break free in all sorts of inarticulate ways classified as bad behaviour, as we educators tick-box and number-crunch our way to a more distant retirement.

The Transformation Problem

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Review of 'Life is a Miracle', director Emir Kusturica

Bosnia, 1992. Luka, a Serbian engineer from Belgrade, lives in a mountain village with his opera-singing wife, Jadranka, and their soccer-mad son, Milos.

Luka is preparing to build a railroad that will transform the region into a tourist paradise but remains deaf to the persistent rumblings of war. When conflict explodes, Jadranka disappears on the arm of a musician and Milos is called up to fight.

The Serbian army appoints Luka guardian of a Muslim hostage, Sabaha. Before long Luka has fallen in love with her but she has to be exchanged for a Serbian captive - his son.

Education: A Vision for True Innovation

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'Another School Is Possible', or so believes Milwaukee-based teacher Bob Peterson from the Rethinking Schools collective who led both a seminar and workshop at October's European Social Forum on this theme. This has already spawned some promising initiatives.

Hackney NUT president Jane Basset spoke on behalf of the Anti-Sats Alliance to a 250-strong conference in Genoa, Italy, on 27 November. Left educationalists are meeting in Paris on 11 December to consider the feasibility of a European day of action on education in 2005.

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