Intercultural dialogue between Europe and Islam

November 1, 2012 in Gus talks, Lectures

On October 31st, professor Gus John delivered a research seminar entitled “Intercultural Dialogue and Mutual Respect between Europe and Islam – The challenge for Education” at the University of Birmingham. Here is the lecture in full:

Let me thank my friend and comrade Dave Gillborn for nominating me to deliver this lecture and thank the School of Education for the invitation to do so.

Professor David Gillborn is one of the few academics in this country who has courageously and consistently engaged education practitioners, policymakers and fellow academics on the issue of race, ethnicity and education in the last period, especially in this era of neo-liberalism and the marketization of schooling and education.  We owe a lot to him for his clarity of vision, the incisiveness of his analysis, the relevance of his research and his perseverance in encouraging teachers, students and voluntary education projects to be bold, to think outside the box and to challenge establishment ‘wisdom’. Activists for children’s education rights, like myself, in communities across the country, continue to look to him for academic research evidence and policy analysis to support our perennial struggles.  For me, and I dare to say it in this forum, that is an even more critical endorsement for any academic than the validation of one’s peers.  It therefore gives me great pleasure to be able to share some thoughts with you today to mark the start of Prof Gillborn’s professorship at this university.

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Black and ethnic minority leaders and managers of learning communities

January 26, 2009 in Gus talks, Speeches

The following keynote address was delivered on January 26th, 2009. 

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

 Inauguration address, 20 January 2009

I have chosen to give this title to this talk because I genuinely believe:

  1. that black teachers and school managers are among the most competent, hard working and committed facilitators that there are;
  1. that among serving black school managers there are people with the highest qualifications and the highest standards of professionalism;
  1. that among the qualifications you bring is the experience of being, and having been, BME consumers of education services, some excellent, some good, some ‘so so’ and some desperately in need of urgent improvement;
  1. that experience has led you to want and to demand more for black children and for all children, and therefore you abhor mediocrity and have the highest expectations of yourself, in order to match the equally high expectations you have of them;
  1. that you owe it to yourself and to one another to attend to your own personal and professional development, individually and collectively, so that you continue to build and sustain a culture of ‘quality’, irrespective of what anyone else around you does;
  1. that given the way the groups to which you belong in the wider community continue to experience the society and its institutions, especially schooling and the labour market, as aspiring managers you have what Rosemary Campbell calls “a moral purpose” to ensure that in your professional role you are making a difference;

In the time remaining, I will try and expand on each of these, though not in any particular order. Read the rest of this entry →