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The Fight For Or Over Education

A conversation between Chris Bratcher and Chris Ormell

Nigh on 50 years ago, a hotly contested Black Paper, Fight for Education, was published. It was a collection of reactionary – or necessarily corrective – essays, depending on your point of view. It was written in the climate of alarm at the height of student power at the LSE, the prospective abolition of grammar schools, the onset of the new universities and continuous assessment in place of exams, and the emphasis on self-expression in the humanities, rather than learning.

Chris Bratcher and Chris Ormell will revisit this pivotal period in education to remind us, or reveal to a new generation, the extent of these opinions and concerns. They will ask whether the changes that were being proposed, that so dismayed the Black Paper authors, have come home to roost. Did they cause a collapse in the transmission of culture, or did they lead to the “better” education that is on offer today?

Finally, do these considerations help inform us as to how we might develop education going forward?

Chris Bratcher is a former Chair and Treasurer of Conway Hall Ethical Society, and practised Sunday session talks giver and WEA/U3A lecturer on a range of topics born of his academic philosophical discipline of ethics and the philosophy of mind, and from his studies in literature and fine arts.

Chris Ormell studied maths and philosophy at Oxford and taught maths in schools, when maths was leading the educational revolution. He and a colleague, Frank Budden, published a book in 1964 which roundly attacked the new revolutionary maths on both practical and philosophical grounds. This led to a ten-year project Maths Applicable, followed by a voluntary group which eventually led the Philosophy for Education Renewal group.

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./free to Conway Hall Ethical Society members.

Tea, coffee & biscuits will be available.


Mr Chris Bratcher | talks
Chris Ormell | talks


Date and Time:

13 December 2015 at 11:00 am


2 hours



Conway Hall
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
0207 242 8034

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