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Bearded Titbits

Time to take a look at some of this week’s news. Please note that I can’t be bothered to look at it sensibly.


First of all; the royal wedding. This is a thing that’s happening. Congrats to the happy couple, now let us have our airwaves back please.

The UK economy has grown by 0.5 percent in the first three months of the year, reducing the chance of a delicious double-dip recession. I know it’s a big deal in economic terms, but half a percent feels like about as much cause for celebration as… well, the royal wedding. The Chancellor is happy about this growth- which stands to reason- but according to the beeb, Labour said that the recovery had been “choked off”. Like Michael Hutchence, one presumes.

RIP Sai Baba. Nearly half a million people gathered in the southern Indian town of Puttaparthi for the funeral of the revered Indian spiritual leader Sri Sathya Sai Baba, according again to the beeb. This dude was a Hindu leader of great reverence- he was buried instead of cremated. That’s a big deal if you’re a Hindizzle. He died aged 84 of multiple organ failure, despite reportedly having the power to perform miracles and cure terminal illnesses. I guess men can’t multitask. He ran a network of free hospitals and schools in but was also accused of fraud and sexual abuse. Interesting bloke, no doubt about it. It’s in Kali’s hands now…

The 26th was the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, made all the more poignant after the Fukushima incident. Both nuclear disasters resulted in an exclusion zone being set up around the stricken area. While ‘only’ two were killed in the blast and ‘only’ 31 workers died from radiation exposure (reportedly, cough cough), the exclusion zone is still uninhabitable and will be for thousands of years. Pripyat will only be seen now by government officials, daredevils and people playing the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. Oh, and the slightly mutated animals that have overtaken the zone since we left. Russian Pres Medvedev and Ukrainian Pres Janukovych met up at a site near Chernobyl to mark the occasional. After it was washed down to disperse the radioactive dust.

It ain’t all doom and/or gloom. We still have the royal wedding- and it looks like it’s going to rain on their parade. That’s when you know it’s truly an English affair!



The Philosophy Shop becomes a charity! Reasoning for all!


The Philosophy Shop, as part of its mission to help UK schoolchildren get the full benefits of its unique pedagogical approach – introducing primary and secondary-school-age children to Philosophy as a way to kick-start their reasoning skills – has become a registered charity, The Philosophy Foundation.

Its new charitable status is part of a consistent Philosophy Shop commitment to finding ways to make the benefits and pleasures of philosophy accessible to all and parallels the group’s campaign to encourage the government to provide a formal place for Philosophy in the school system with its 4Rs campaign (Reading, (W)riting, (A)rithmetic AND Reasoning.).

This commitment has been underlined by the move to become a charity, which guarantees that the organisation is a fully and transparent not-for-profit concern.

The Philosophy Shop, which will operate as a trading name for The Philosophy Foundation, has a five year track record providing training for qualified Philosophers on how to practically employ philosophical methods in a classroom situation for children as young as four. The body also helps to place these subject specialists in schools and offers continual professional development to support them, plus trains classroom teachers in using an aspect of Philosophical method called ‘Enquiry’ to help in facilitating child-centred discussion.

Apart from its work in UK schools, The Philosophy Shop also provides benefit to the wider community by offering recreational education classes to adults, as well as Philosophy summer schools and philosophy in prisons, with ex-offenders, and in hospitals..

Commenting on the move, Emma Worley, The Philosophy Shop Founder and Chief Operating Officer, notes, “A great deal of our work is charitable in nature and becoming a charity is a natural move for us.

“We have had overwhelming support from the educational community and with The Philosophy Foundation we can build on that support and do more to ensure young people from all backgrounds finally gain access to Philosophy and the intellectual benefits that access brings.”

The Philosophy Shop has also appointed its board of Trustees, which includes: Dr Andrew Flynn, Catherine Pamplin and Jasna Simpson. Each of whom has a strong interest in or experience of education.

“We find Philosophy is beloved of the most able, but also nurtures the abilities of students far too easily labeled ‘difficult’ and ‘low-achieving’ as well as adults who did not respond well to a conventional curriculum, all of whom really enjoy the stimulus of discussion and argument,” she adds. “Philosophy can provide all members of our community an outlet for their intelligence and creativity.”

“Philosophy has developed our more able, but also given great confidence to those children who struggle with the more conventional curriculum,” adds Headmistress Mrs Palmer at Eliot Bank Primary school, an institution that uses The Philosophy Shop’s resources.

Reflecting the recent cuts to funding for the Humanities, the group plans to subsidise Philosophy students coming from low socio-economic backgrounds, who will otherwise be unable to continue in Higher Education. It will seek to raise awareness as well as fund research into the impact of Philosophy on learning and education more widely. Finally, The Philosophy Shop plans to offer funded Philosophy teacher placements to schools in disadvantaged areas.


Stoke on Trent college launches new Saturday courses!


Stoke on Trent College is opening up access to further education to a wider audience with the launch of a Saturday College.

Taking place at the inspirational new Lifestyle Building at the Cauldon Campus, learners will be offered the chance to undertake training and development courses without taking any time out from their Monday to Friday jobs.

A launch event takes place on Saturday, March 5, between 9am and 1pm, at the Lifestyle Building, where visitors will receive a warm welcome and the chance to find out more about the range of courses and services now available on a Saturday.

Courses on offer include beauty and holistic therapy, health and child care, sport and exercise, and health and safety/food preparation.

Saturday Kitchen courses are also taking place, which will deepen people’s knowledge of subject areas including include pastry, global influences – and Thai, BBQ and Moroccan cookery. 

Some courses are free of charge and the training runs from between two and 36 weeks depending on the subject.

Yvonne Kelly, Director of Service Sectors at Stoke on Trent College, said, “The Saturday College is perfect for people in full time employment who wish to take a career change.

“It also works well for people who can’t get child care during the week but want to go back to college.

“In addition to recognised vocational qualifications, there is a range of taster courses for adults who would like to try a new skill before committing to a full award.  They will come out of this with a College certificate and for adults completing their first taster, they won’t have to pay for it.”

The launch event will also be used to showcase the state-of-the-art salon and spa facilities at the Lifestyle Building, where members of the public can enjoy a wide range of luxury treatments.

The College’s fitness centre will also be open, which features services including a personalised training programme, power walks, tennis for beginners, reflexology, remedial massage and sports injury clinic.