Sunday, 5 February 2012

gentle chaos

I spent Friday evening and Saturday at a conference at the BFI on South Bank this weekend.  I had to rush back to avoid snow stopping play as far as the trains go, but a jolly good time was had.  The snow was deep pan crisp and even just like a Christmas pizza this morning but probably will mostly have vanished by tomorrow.

I'd left school early on Friday, missing my afternoon lesson, to get up to London in time.  I'm glad I did as the evening session was a talk by Ian Livingstone, founder of Games Workshop, author of many games-style books and now currently the big guru and prime mover to the current government on Computer Science.  You know, the stuff about how students don't need a year to learn how to use Excel and Word as they're born with the knowledge; they evidently need to be able to programme computers to make Britain great again.  Something like that, anyway.  it was an excellent talk - but like everyone else, I'm totally gobsmacked by how much money is involved in the Games industry.  It's billions of pounds, much more than movies or music.  Blimey.

I stayed in a very swanky hotel, the Plaza Riverbank which is a four star hotel.  I found it on or whatever - it was what they call a "mystery hotel".  You have to apply first, then they tell you which hotel it is.  Other than the fact it was quite a way (although near Waterloo) from the BFI it really was a lovely place to stay.  I guess you've realised that I'm not paying for it.  Although I went in my own time and spent part of the weekend working in workshops and lectures, it was all for education.  Therefore, school paid for it.  However, the upshot is that it was only £79 for the night, which situated where it is, is not bad.  A bit of luxury, anyway.  It'll take a little while to fully assimilate the usefulness of the conference, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Despite making a couple of (very) short films - one of which I was in* - I spent some time networking and generally enjoying the opportunity to just be there.  After Friday evening's session, I had a lovely meal at the BFI Riverfront restaurant.  The day's special was Sea Bream and salad at a very reasonable £10; all the other food looked good too. After getting back to the swanky hotel, I tried to watch Jaws 3 but fell asleep. Awful.

The next day was quite busy what with all the workshops but I spent an enjoyable hour in the BFI bookshop and spent a fair bit of my small budget on Film books.  What I did manage to get hold of, though, was a four dvd  set of Mystery and Imagination, an ABC tv series from the late 1960s.  It has loads of great programmes: tv versions of  Dracula, Frankenstein, M R James and Algernon Blackwood stuff, all brilliant for teaching the lower years Gothic literature.  Funny enough, that's exactly what I had started teaching my year 8 on the Friday morning.  It's rated at age 12 so it should be perfect.  I'm looking forward to exploring them (including the Canterville Ghost starring Bruce Forsyth as the ghost!). This all fits in well with my current obsessions, so I'll probably mention these as we go along over the coming weeks.

So, why 'gentle chaos'? Well, I can't help but think that any time I go to these sort of conferences (not that I get much opportunity to) they're always so beautifully amateur.  What I referred to someone at the weekend as 'gently chaotic' - the fact that it was organised to a certain extent but not really fully thought-through.  Why send a ticket to be printed off for Saturday, but not Friday, and then not want to see it on the day anyway?  "Oh no, we don't need that.  No-one else would be mad enough to come here on a Saturday for this!" 

Still, although they wanted a hundred to attend this conference, they managed ninety eight, many quite poorly paid teachers.  Many of whom had paid for themselves.  This is quite remarkable. I bet tossers like Mi****l G*** and that complete ****** that runs Ofsted wouldn't beleive it that some of us are commited enough to give up our own time (and money in some cases) to attend this purely because we love what we do.  They probably would think that we earn too much! I had a great time, anyway.

Talking of Ofsted, we have what is now known in the business** as a 'Mocksted' this week. A pretend Ofsted to get us panicky and rehearse for the real thing when it eventually comes along.  Mrs Dave is obviously quite involved and busy preparing.  I'm off for a bath and a glass of Skye's finest.  Oh, and to listen to the album of the week - Bap Kennedy's The Sailor's Revenge

And then tomorrow I'll worry about tomorrow . . .

* I'll post a link if it ever appears on one of the websites its's supposed to
** I work at an Academy now.  The Tory party are definitely carrying on in Th*****r's project
**** you get the idea

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