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The Changing Face of Motherhood

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some interesting findings reported on the BBC this week looking at the complex range of pressures facing mothers today compared to their mums and grannies. The new research is from The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC). Obviously this will be helpful for students as an up to date case study for ‘Family’ on SCLY1. Also useful for Methods on SCLY2, as the study employs triangulation, consisting of Official Statistics, Focus Groups and an Online Poll. One stand out finding of resonance for me was that the 70’s and 80’s were seen as the best time to raise children; I must let my mum know!

Useful Video on Newsworthiness

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I found this really useful clip on YouTube. It does about 5 mins on newsworthiness and is just right for GCSE although no reason why you couldn’t use it for AS either.  It’s American and you might not like the voice over or teach kids who think they must laugh at anyone who differs from them, but my lot seemed happy enough with it.  Just slightly cheesy point at the end about writing whatever you like, so I guess it must be aimed at some variety of journalism students.

A Real Live Positivist

Sometimes it’s hard to find a sociologist who is easily put into one of the rather artificial boxes or categories which are used at A level.  They are useful - up to a point, but if you are ambitious and fairly sophisticated, don’t be fooled into thinking all sociologists fit neatly into such categories. Remember, sociological theories are tools - to be used - and different sociologists adapt them in different ways.

But anyway, do you know of any real positivists?  Here’s one I’ve found - Diego Gambetta of Nuffield College Oxford.  He has written a great website where he explains some of his views. I don’t necessarily agree with him, but you’ve got to admire the bluntness of the man who can say this: ” I detest jargon, which has done so much to ruin, often deservedly, the reputation of sociology. I do not mean technical words, or new words that identify something for which we have no synonyms in our vocabulary. I mean all embracing loose metaphors – such as liquid modernity or risk society or space of flows. Jargon is the make up donned by bad theorising to veil its hollowness. When I encounter words such as discourse, modernity or structuration I stop reading.”   If you want to read more you will find it in his his essay More Hedgehog than Fox: a self-presentation.

Census Day

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Having woken late or to find that the clocks should have moved forward many of us - or heads of household at least - may now also be dimly aware of another demand being made by the state - fill in your census form.  If you are a teacher - do not look a gift horse in the mouth - fill in your return online and keep the questionnaire to use in class.  Whether you are a student or a teacher, check up the census website and have a look at the questions.  Students especially, who have a tendency to think questionnaires are easy - having looked at the questions, the number of options and the coding boxes - do you still think this is an easy method?

BBC survey of schoolchildren

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The BBC have carried out a survey of UK schoolchildren, looking at religion and technology, as well as hopes and aspirations.  It makes interesting reading and might be useful for AS students studying the family.  Read the story here and download the report here.

the impact of technology

The BBC ran an article recently on famous ‘firsts’ - email, telegram, telephone call…  I made this little worksheet for a bit of fun for GCSE classes.

Postmodernism Clip

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nice clip for explaining or getting into postmodernism here.

AQA unit 3 and Unit 4 outlines

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I put these exam outlines together for my students to help them prepare for the summer exams.  Feel free to use and adapt.
Unit 3: Mass Media AQA_SCLY3_outline.doc
Unit 4: Crime and deviance with methods and theory AQA_SCLY4_outline.doc

Marketisation of Education

The BBC reported on the potential impact of the rise in tuition fees for university, with some calculations provided by Baker Tilly.  A good starting point for a debate on the impact of marketisation.  Read about it here.

Love pie. Hate pie-charts

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I have just been given David McCandless’ great coffee table book ‘Information is Beautiful’. As a consequence I’ve been raiding some of his images for class as an alternative to ‘boring’ tables and charts.
Try starting with these
‘Mountains Out of Molehills’ - timeline of global media scare stories, an interactive visualisation of Cohen’s Moral Panics?
‘Left vs. Right’ – SCLY3 Politics for Dummies!
‘Racist profiling’ – a mapping correlation of ethnicity population density and support of nationalistic parties in the UK. Psephology for SCLY3?

Stuart Hall and Multiculturalism

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don’t miss a special Thinking Allowed tomorrow, which will feature Laurie Taylor talking to Stuart Hall about multiculturalism. Should be fascinating.

did you fail the English Bac?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some headteachers and deputies at the Annual Conference of the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL) in Manchester are wearing badges that say ‘I failed the English bac’ in protest at the Government’s new measure of GCSE performance.  Old fashioned and contradictory to personalised learning, or driven by public demand?  What do you think?
Read about it here.

AQA unit 1 and Unit 2 outlines

Friday, March 11, 2011

I put these exam outlines together for my students to help them prepare for the summer exams.  Feel free to use and adapt.
Unit 1: families and households AQA_SCLY1_outline.doc
Unit 2: education with research methods AQA_SCLY2_outline.doc

Which dads help out most?

The BBC recently reported the release of a new study looking at unpaid domestic labour and gender roles.  The idea that the finding that ‘out-of-work fathers spend less time caring for their children than mothers who have a job’ reflects ‘startling new research’ would be a good starting point for discussion.  The report itself provides some interesting points of cross-cultural comparison and is worth a look.  A copy can be downloaded here.

Losing My Religion

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

There’s a very useful clip from BBC Breakfast - an interview with Rory McGrath talking about losing his religious faith. Would be great for introducing lessons on either secularization or sociological perspectives on religion - Marxism or Functionalism - as McGrath touches on the issue of how Catholicism can be a controlling influence in a person’s life.



Monday, March 07, 2011

Neat little story from the BBC about the pressures of parenting - just to give you a flavour from the other side of the education debate.  Read it here.

The British At Work

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A new series starts on BBC2 this week in which Kirsty Young looks at British working lives since the Second World War. This programme combines the memories of ordinary working people with vivid archive from documentary, television and film to look at an era in which work was a great mass experience and work places were lively, welcoming communities. Details can be found here

Government policy towards divorce

Saturday, March 05, 2011

AQA encourage students to use contemporary examples where possible.  For Unit 1: Families and Households, you may like to discuss new government policy towards divorcing couples: they are to be referred to mediation to sort out disputes before they are allowed to resort to the courts (BBC article).

Jamie’s Dream School

Historian David Starkey has become the surprise star of the new series, ‘Jamie’s Dream School’.  Ostensibly focusing on how to engage teenagers who have dropped out of mainstream education, the programme mainly succeeds in showing just how difficult teaching can be - even if you are world-renowned expert in your field!  You can read an article here.

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Normal Service Will Be Resumed

Friday, March 04, 2011

Just to say, ‘Hi’, I’m back. Apologies for the break in normal service, but I’ve started teaching at a new school and hadn’t got my computer links sorted out.  I’ve got a couple of powerpoints which I am trying to post up -  one has worked and I’ve put it in for Wednesday - check the format/version will work with your system.  Thanks to Stephen and Jenny for holding the fort.

Counting Happiness – Objective Measurement of a Subjective Concept

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The 2011 UK Census will attempt for the first time to measure how happy we are, the ONS actually call it ‘Subjective Well Being’ – SWB. It sounds like herding cats to me. In the run up to the exam season it provides an interesting way to introduce/refresh the methodological issues of Sociology and Science, Objectivity and Subjectivity.

Needless to say this has provoked a lot of interest in the media. In his BBC blog, Mark Easton provides a comprehensive review of the issue, with lots of interesting international graphs (we’re a miserable lot) and links to some more in depth research. Whilst (Mr Grumpy) Laurie Taylor in his weekly BBC R4 programme (about 12 minutes in) talks to the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner who believes that…... ‘happiness has become a burdensome duty and that the wave of enthusiasm for pursuing the nebulous quality has the opposite effect of actually promoting unhappiness amongst those who seek it’. In other words don’t chase happiness, just embrace it when it arrives.

Secondary Sources of Data Powerpoint Images

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Well, if this works, great.  Attached is a powerpoint of some images I use for teaching secondary sources. There are no words, just images. I find this quite a helpful way of doing things - get the students to say what the images show and make them discuss what the significance is.


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