Thursday, 9th March (Richmond)

1. Two weeks ago, the research group Autonomy published a report on the trial by a number of UK companies of a four-day working week which got a lot of publicity, not least because the results were so emphatically in favour of a four-day rather than a five-day working week: here’s The Guardian piece at the time

Michael Sanders, however, has just published a post on the What Works Wellbeing Centre’s blog which sounds a more sceptical note (and re-emphasises one or two basic evaluation principles, including ‘best (only) you don’t evaluate your own work’)

PDFs of the whole Autonomy report and of the three-page executive summary only below.

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2. “Our children spend their days being passively instructed and made to sit still and take tests—often against their will. We call this imprisonment schooling yet wonder why kids become bored and misbehave. Even outside of school children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling—and life—as a series of hoops to struggle through.”

That’s a reasonable summary of the thinking of Peter Gray, who’s a professor of psychology at Boston College in the USA and a lifelong advocate of ‘unschooling’, an approach to education which emphasises learner autonomy and self-directed learning. His blog, Freedom to Learn, investigates the roles of play and curiosity as foundations for learning

and here’s a short video by Peter outlining his beliefs

3. Three distinctly challenging pieces (for us non-scientists, at least) for your weekend reading and listening from The Conversation, in the belief that an occasional mental work-out is good for us:

Four common misconceptions about quantum physics

Quantum mechanics: how the future might influence the past

And the first episode of their Great Mysteries of Physics podcast series – Is time an illusion?

4. And, finally, a piece from Granta by Amitava Kumar about a recent visit he made to India, Many Words for Heat, Many Words for Hate

It includes the following paragraph: “The week before I arrived, there were accounts in the news, and especially on social media, of bulldozers being used to demolish Muslim homes in Delhi and elsewhere. The visiting British prime minister, Boris Johnson, appeared on my timeline, because he had jumped aboard a new JCB bulldozer (at a JCB) factory in Gujarat. The JCB bulldozers were the ones being used in the demolitions. Did he not know that people’s homes were being destroyed?”

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