Tag Archives: education

University Tuition Fees

It is no use expecting the universities to sort all this out by going to 18-year-olds and dangling bursaries in front of them, if those 18-year-olds have long since been let down by the educational system, or if they have concluded that university is not for them

If the omens are right, this could be an epoch-making week. Lord Browne, formerly of BP, is finally about to unveil his recommendations on university finance, and I predict the political equivalent of an undersea oil-rig blow-out. He will say that universities should be free to charge more for tuition fees – and there is going to be fury from Left and Right.

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Ed Miliband : same school ; different road

Ed (left) and David Miliband

Labour’s new leader looks like being under the thumb of the unions — harking back to the bad old days of the 1970s, says Boris Johnson.

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It is an unsettling fact that I went to the same school as the party leader.  Indeed, there are some people who have taken to complaining about this coincidence.  They say it is unacceptable in the 21st century that so much political power should be concentrated in the old boys of one educational establishment.  It is a sign, they say, that the country has failed to move on.

Both of us went to the same institution of ancient rituals and gorgeous brickwork, ideally situated by one of the nation’s most famous waterways and blessed with lush green spaces nearby.  It is a forcing-house of talent, where the offspring of privilege acquire that patina of good manners, the ever so slightly infuriating habit of putting people at their ease, together with that sense of entitlement that propels them to the top and marks them out ever after as Old Primroseans.

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Why is literacy declining?

Boris displays his shameless competitive streak as he remembers being beaten by his sister when reading

Lurking in the childhood of anyone ambitious there is always the memory of some humiliation that sets them on the path of self-improvement. Show me a billionaire, and I will show you someone who was beaten up for his lunch money. Many is the megalomaniac who first had to overcome a case of acne or puppy fat or being forced by his mother to wear a flowery tie to a friend’s birthday party. You want to know my moment of childhood shame? Shall I tell you when I decided that I was going to have to sharpen up my act to survive?

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Successors to Augustus

 · The Julio-Claudian Dynasty · 

Much already exists, in print and on the Internet, about ancient Rome ;  most of it deals with the conflicts fought and lands conquered by her leaders.  A rehearsal of that material here is unnecessary ;  a summary of the family tree of the dynasty founded by Augustus might, however, interest the reader and add to the colour of to-day’s* broadcast in the entertaining series A History of the World in 100 Objects on B.B.C. Radio-4, presented by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum.

* Friday, 21st. May

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Caesar Augustus

The lines of descent themselves within this family tree are reasonably simple, despite quite a lot of marriage amongst cousins ;  what complicates it are the manifold adoptions, as one emperor after another attempts to secure his succession — either by a blood relative or by a perhaps unrelated individual considered suitable.

The dynasty — known as the Julio-Claudian — really begins in the time of C. Julius Caesar.  The ‘C.’ stands for his praenomen (plural praenomina) or forename, Gaius ;  for a detailed description of Roman naming conventions see this excellent Wikipedia article ;  and a list of the most common praenomina and their conventional abbreviations.  (Links to Wikipedia articles have been given throughout :  not only are they often well presented ;  they themselves give extensive references for those wanting to pursue the subject.)

Follow the story through the links on our simplified form of the Julio-Claudian family tree.

Augustus is coming

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Listen to Boris talk about the Roman emperor Augustus
this Friday, 21st. May, on Radio 4 at 9.45 a.m.,
repeated at 7.45 p.m. and on Saturday at 12.30 a.m.

 

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Although Rome’s empire grew throughout the late republic — from the middle of the third century to the death of Julius Caesar in 44 b.c. — the first emperor, appointed by the Senate, was Augustus.

On Friday, 21st. May, Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor — in his interesting and entertaining series A History of the World in 100 Objects (B.B.C. Radio-4, 0945, 1945 and the following morning at 0030) — will introduce Augustus in the form of a larger-than-life bronze head with inlaid eyes of glass, calcite and metal rings, staring in to the distance.

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  Caesar Augustus

The head — originally part of a statue in Egypt, which Augustus had annexed following the defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII — had been severed and taken home by an invading Kushite army from Meroë (in to-day’s Sudan), there to be buried beneath the threshold of a temple.  Any-one crossing the threshold would have deliberately trodden on the head of Augustus in the process, demonstrating contempt for him and the Roman Empire :  ironically the Kushites ensured the head’s survival in to our age.

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With contributions from Dr. Susan Walker, Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the Ashmolean, and Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Neil will tell how Augustus significantly enlarged the Empire, his image projecting everywhere the power of Rome.

Read more about Augustus at the B.B.C.’s History of the World site.

The wives of the emperors were no less colourful :  a recently published account of the life of Livia, third – and enduring – wife of Augustus, is reviewed in this week’s edition of The Spectator.

ΠΞ

A ‘scientist’ — engaged in his employment …

A ‘scientist’ — engaged in his employment
            his employment
    And maturing his felonious little plans
            little plans
’Though he likes to interfere with your enjoyment,
            your enjoyment
    Wants a pension just like any honest man’s.
            honest man’s

Our data we with difficulty smother,
            -culty smother
    When F.O.I.* reports are to be done ;
            to be done
Ah, take one consideration with another :
            with another
    A fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.

Ah-ah …….

When F.O.I. reports are to be done, to be done,
    A fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.
            happy one

When the A.C.C.† alarmist’s not a-warming —
            not a-warming
    The carbon market closed just for the time
            for the time
He just loves to blame humanity for storming
            -ty for storming
    And listen to the cash register chime.
            -gister chime

When the fraudster’s busy fiddling the data,
            -ling the data
    He ignores the very function of the sun ;
            of the sun
But his e-mail will be found a little later,
            little later
    So the fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.

Ah-ah …….

When F.O.I. reports are to be done, to be done,
    A fraudster’s lot is not a happy one.
            happy one

* F.O.I. :  a reference to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000, as amended
† Anthropogenic Climate Change (chosen to fit the metre)

My thanks to the University of Iowa Summer Opera with Jon Meadows as the Sergeant of Police — ΠΞ

EU students in UK universities

Kings College Cambridge (freefoto)
King's College Cambridge (freefoto)

Let me propose a subject to be placed on the agenda at once …. a rebate. With Britain’s contribution to the EU budget rising to £6.4 billion, and the country’s finances so parlous that London babies are being buried in paupers’ graves, we have no option but to raise this at EU level

On June 17, David Cameron will travel to Brussels for his first EU summit as prime minister. When the silence falls and the goggling interpreters prepare for the first words to be heard from a Tory prime minister in 13 years, he will be thinking – like all British PMs – of two audiences.

To his new amigos he will want to send out a powerful message that the UK is ready to lead in Europe and to ensure that the EU is a force for good. And to the millions of voters back home he will simultaneously want to signal that he will stick up for this country’s interests and that he will not allow us to be ripped off by our friends and partners in Brussels.

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Rage against Ed Balls MP and Latin in the Classroom

The demand for Latin is huge and it is growing, and I don’t just mean that the public is fascinated with the ancient world – though that is obviously true, and demonstrated, for instance, by the success of Robert Harris’s Cicero novels. There is a hunger for the language itself and, thanks to the efforts of a small number of organisations and volunteers, Latin is fighting its way back on to the curriculum

Being an even-tempered fellow, and given that we have already put up with so much nonsense from the Labour Government, I find there are very few ministerial pronouncements that make me wild with anger. We have learnt to be phlegmatic about the mistakes of a government that has banned 4,300 courses of human conduct, plunged this country into the deepest recession in memory, and so skewed the economy that 70 per cent of the Newcastle workforce is in the pay of the state. But there are times when a minister says something so maddening, so death-defyingly stupid, that I am glad not to be in the same room in case I should reach out, grab his tie, and end what is left of my political career with one almighty head-butt.

Such were my feelings on reading Mr Ed Balls on the subject of teaching Latin in schools. Speaking on the radio, Spheroids dismissed the idea that Latin could inspire or motivate pupils he said that headteachers often took him to see the benefits of dance, technology or sport but added:

 “No one has ever taken me to a Latin lesson to make the same point. Very few parents are pushing for it, very few pupils want to study it.”

It is nothing short of a disaster that this man is still nominally in charge of education, science, scholarship and learning in this country. He is in danger of undoing the excellent work of his predecessor, Andrew Adonis, and he is just wrong. Of course he doesn’t get taken round many Latin classes in the state sector. That is because only 15 per cent of maintained schools offer the subject, against 60 per cent of fee-paying schools. But to say that “very few” want to study the subject, to say that there is no demand for Latin – it makes me want to weep with rage. The demand is huge and it is growing, and I don’t just mean that the public is fascinated with the ancient world – though that is obviously true, and demonstrated, for instance, by the success of Robert Harris’s Cicero novels.

There is a hunger for the language itself and, thanks to the efforts of a small number of organisations and volunteers, Latin is fighting its way back on to the curriculum. The Cambridge Classics Project did a 2008 study that found that no fewer than 500 secondary schools had started teaching Latin in the past eight years. That is a fantastic thing. Those schools deserve support.

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Ancient Greece : Index

Temple of Zeus at Nemea

Lessons of the Past

Boris Johnson has spoken of the contribution a knowledge of the classics can make to understanding our own times. In the modern political world — as in the ancient — the same theme is played out again and again … with the same characters : political leaders that let power go to their heads and then pay the price (although that price is oft paid in larger measure by those they lead). It’s not all bad news, however, for Greek history is also full of inspirational stories.

We have posted a series of articles on the ancient world — from a look at Athens in the Archaic Age (seventh and sixth centuries b.c.) to our own Age of Pericles — and hope they will prove interesting.



  1. The Archaic Age : emerging from the Dark Age
  2. Phidippides : the first Marathon run
  3. Themistocles and the Fleet of Triremes
  4. The Oracle at Delphi
  5. Ostracism : a useful tool we seem to have lost
  6. The Age of Pericles

If you’ve enjoyed an article — or even if not — please leave a comment on the relevant page. Visit Boris Johnson’s web-site for other interesting articles and discussions.

Ancient Greece : Pericles (Part III)

Boris Johnson has often spoken of his love of Greek history and of Pericles in particular. When asked who his historical pin-up was and why, he replied: “Pericles. Look at his Funeral Speech: democracy; freedom — champion stuff.” — Read the full interview.

A few years ago he went to the British Museum and bought a bust of Pericles.

Copy of Egg and Dart 300

In case you missed them : Pericles Part I and Part II.

Pericles - poly pb 194X302

Surely the greatest bequest of Pericles to our age was his incorruptibility
 — if for nothing else, then for this we feel his absence.

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In 431 b.c., Pericles was seeing the justification of his building programme in its sheer magnificence. As thirty years before, however, the Peloponnese was tense.

The Great Peloponnesian War (431-404)

During the period between the wars Athens continued her expansion, particularly in the Greek West, which much alarmed Spartan important ally Corinth, metropolis (mother city) of the dominant polis in Sicily, Syracuse (which would feature later in the naval fortunes of Athens). There ensued a chain of events, apparently disconnected, that — rather as those leading to the First World War — would precipitate conflict and end, after only fifteen, the thirty-year peace agreed in 446.

Corinth, in response to the Athenian expansion to the West, especially in connexion with a dispute over Corcyra (modern Corfu), threatened to leave the Peloponnesian League, unless Sparta went to war with Athens. A break-up of the League would imperil Sparta’s hold on the Peloponnese for she relied heavily upon the maintenance of a string of oligarchic governments that denied their populations any political power.

Athens, meanwhile, hoping to destabilize Megara’s oligarchy — a democratic Megara might become an ally and, by virtue of her location on the Isthmus of Corinth, be able to block any assault upon Attica from Thessaly or the Peloponnese — imposed economic sanctions upon her, banning her merchants and vessels from Athens and the ports of the allied and dependent states. This was the final straw : in 431 the conflict began.

Continue reading Ancient Greece : Pericles (Part III)