Concrete aficionado as I am, I was delighted to spend a few hours in the Institute of Education’s giant concrete castle at 20 Bedford Way. This 1976 Denys Lasdun building is a classic – in two halves whose corridors and lifts don’t quite match up, branching out of a great open atrium. It’s amazing now to think that someone was allowed to insert this bold construction right in the middle of Bloomsbury’s gracious old houses and squares.
I was there receiving what I regard as a major honour; Honorary Fellowship of the IoE, an institution generally agreed to be unrivalled amongst the world’s schools of education. Attending the graduation ceremony (one of several that week) was heartwarming. A great many of the graduates are mature students, some of them serving teachers (one of whom crossed the stage to the cry ‘Well done Mum!”) and the global reach of the student body is breathtaking.
It was interesting to hear the numerous theses titles read out, all of them engaging with important contemporary issues: “”Second Language Acquisition and Education”;”Human-Computer Interaction”;’Education and Children and Media” . Above all, it was good to hear informed people speaking, realistically but often optimistically, about education as it actually is at the moment, and could be in the future. During the present General Election campaign we’ve heard little about schools – which is sort of a pleasant relief from the usual rhetoric, but the world of teachers, students (of all ages) and their education should really occupy the forefront of our attention when we’re deciding how to vote.