Prioritising the teaching of science and maths and making it inspiring

Girl writing equations on a chalkboardFriday 10 Oct, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Friday Room regular and lifelong teacher Geoff Gay will be presenting this topic:

When I was at school back in 1960, at the tender age of 12/13 we had to choose between two pathways: “Science” or “Arts” (echos of CP Snow – Two Cultures!). From the age of about 10, I was very interested in science (especially astronomy) so that was naturally my choice. BUT my enthusiasm was soon dimmed by some very uninspiring science teaching: when I asked questions, I usually got the answer “Just learn it to get a good grade in the exam”.

I understand that science teaching has not got much better in the ensuing 50-plus years, with the result that most people in our society do not understand either scientific method or the key science concepts. To take one example, lots of people are not aware of the time and distance scales of our universe. Understanding science is one of the keys to understanding the world and the universe, and, without that understanding, it is difficult to contribute to change. What can be done about this?

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Friday Room Special: A Conversation with Ruth Lister

RuthListerFriday 26 Sept, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

We need to create a culture that combines a sense of belonging with openness to new ideas. To get away from the idea that we are individuals to be consulted and not just consumers or components of some machine. Politics needs to be based on dialogue rather than Party bigwigs telling us what is best for us.

The starting point will be the idea of the Open Tribe which was developed in a series of interviews with politically active people and refined into a book by Sue Goss. It is to do with reconciling the supportive but restrictive nature of belonging to a specific group or tribe and the openness to novelty but risk of isolation that comes from not belonging.

Ruth’s Profile

From 1971 to 1987 I worked for the Child Poverty Action Group, the last 8 years as director.  I joined the Department of Social Sciences after 6 years as Professor and Head of Department of Applied Social Studies, Bradford University.  Between 2005 and 2007 I spent some time at the University of Glasgow as the first Donald Dewar Visiting Professor of Social Justice.  I retired in October 2010 and joined the House of Lords as a Labour peer in February 2011.  I was elected hon president of CPAG in December 2010.  I currently sit on the Joint Committee of Human Rights, the board of the Smith Institute and am vice-chair of the Fair Pay Network and a patron of JustFair.  In the past I have sat on a number of independent commissions, the National Equality Panel and the Community Development Foundation, as well as numerous other voluntary organisation and research advisory committees.  In 2010 I received a life-time achievement from the Social Policy Association.  In 2005 I was co-recipient of the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher & Further Education awarded to the university for its contribution to social policy.

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Change of Venue for Friday’s meeting

Matt Sissons meeting will now be in the Yeoman room in the Brush Sports and Social Club in Fennel street, next door but one from Unity House.



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Growth and the efficiency question


Friday 12 Sept, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Note: Change of venue to Brush Sports and Social Club

Discussion to be introduced by Matt Sisson, author of  The Astronaut, the Cake, and Tomorrow and the Green Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Loughborough.

The world faces an unprecedented environmental crisis. We are overwhelming the capacity of our planet to support life. Yet we still measure our success by economic  growth; by how much we can increase the size of our footprint and the weight with which we tread.

So how can we live sustainably? Matt Sisson argues that the scale of the challenge requires wholesale changes to our economic and financial systems. If we are to all flourish within the sustainable limits of the Earth, we must challenge the perceived wisdoms of our age – from growth to efficiency, and from austerity to the  free market.

Looking at one of these  wisdoms, the national and global pursuit of efficiency, the session will consider whether we still need efficiency, whether it‘s counter-productive to efforts to live sustainably, and what the alternatives might look like.


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Scotland Independence debates

Should Scotland be independent?

Leicester Secular Society,

Sunday 7th September, 6.30pm, Secular Hall

‘Yes’ and ‘No’ supporters argue it out. Audience members will participate and a (non-Binding!) vote will be taken.

After the Scottish Referendum: what now for the UK?

Leicester Unlock Democracy

Monday 22 Sept, 7,30pm The Ale Wagon, Rutland Street, Leicester

The result of the Scottish referendum is binding, so that if Scotland votes Yes for independence, they will become independent some time in 2016: “Devo Max” is not an option in the referendum, but if the vote is No, this would still be an option to be considered, especially as all three of the major parliamentary parties are committed to extending Scottish devolution. But, whatever the result in Scotland, where does that leave the rest of the UK?

Related to the so-called “West Lothian Question”, England has a democratic deficit: Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have measures of devolution but the English regions do not. Should the UK have a federal system, with a measure of devolution to the English regions? Would Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly constitute a separate region, or would they be included in a South-West region? How would the regional boundaries be decided?

To be introduced by Dr Ray Sutton

After the Referendum

Loughborough Left Unity

Thursday 25th Sept, 8.00pm, John Storer House

No official title yet, but we will be looking mainly at Devolution for England in the light of the result of the Scottish Referendum.

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Ray Sutton lectures

Not Fade Away

A social history of the 1960s
Thursday afternoon lectures
by Dr Ray Sutton MA PhD
11 Sept The Profumo Scandal and Lady Chatterley Trial
18 Sept The Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius 
25 Sept HI-DI-HI: Holiday Camp culture in the 1950s and 60s
2  Oct  Days of Vision: British TV, Film and Drama
9  Oct  Joe Orton a 1960s Leicester Playwright
16 Oct  Vietnam Civil Rights and Black Power
23 Oct  Art and Society in the 1960s
30 Oct  Comrade Rockstar: the life and strange death of Dean Read
16 Nov  Revolution in the Mind: Pop groups of the 1960s
13 Nov  Alexander Dubcek and the Prague Spring
20 Nov  Paris: the Student Revolt May 1968
27 Nov  The New Left and Trade Union militancy. In Britain
4  Dec  Che Guevara and new theories of Revolution
11 Dec  Fashion and Style In the 1960s 
Unity House, Fennel Street,
Thursday afternoons 2pm-3.30
Admission £3 per lecture attended,
tea/coffee 50p served during a short break

The History of Art

A series of lectures in Autumn 2014
by Dr Ray Sutton MA PhD
11 Sept The Apocalyptic Vision of John Martin
18 Sept David and the pursuit of evolutionary virtue
25 Sept The artistic discovery of Wales
2 Oct   The mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait
9 Oct   Botticelli's Primavera and the Birth of Venus
16 Oct  Victorian Fairy Paintings
23 Oct  Irish Art 1830-1990
30 Oct  Adolph Valette: a French Impressionist in Manchester 
6 Nov   Mikail Larionov and Russian Art
13 Nov  The artistic discovery of Scotland 20 Nov Fly Now: a history of airline posters 
27 Nov  The art of Sir John Everett Millais
4 Dec   Samuel Palmer: a visionary poetic painter
11 Dec  Art and propaganda in the Third Reich
18 Dec  Altdorfer and Baldung Grien: 16th century painters

Quorn Village Hail,
Leicester Road
(car park at rear)
Thursday mornings
Admission £3 per lecture attended,
tea/coffee 50p served during a short break.
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Informal meeting Friday 5th

There will be an informal meeting in the Swan this Friday to discuss the new season of the Friday Room.

We plan to be there at about 8:00, but this may be a bit early for some, so the suggestion is not to get serious until a bit later.

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