Play Populism Bingo

By Becky Parry


As 2016 closed it was hard to avoid the sound of journalists sharpening their obituary writing pencils. The ill concealed glee at the death of another celebrity seemed to provide a welcome break from the same old, same old news generated by elections and referendums. And who wouldn’t prefer to watch a David Bowie retrospective or a Victoria Wood special than listen to guffawing politicians swilling beer whilst pretending to be ‘the voice of the ordinary people’? Perhaps most shocking was the ease with which voters were won over by the impossible promises, misuse of statistics and fear mongering on offer. We may like complexity, nuance and ambiguity in our idols, but we don’t seem to appreciate these qualities in our politicians or our journalists.

It was therefore with a mix of amusement and awe that I reacted to my encounter with Populism Bingo, one of many resources of Kavi, the National Audiovisual Institute, Dept for Media Education and Audiovisual Media in (you guessed it) Finland!

Why amusement? The game invites students to analyse political speeches and spot the populist tactics – the winner spots them all. I chuckled to myself (yes demonically) thinking of all those staff meetings spent playing ‘Jargon Bingo,’ spotting the latest euphemisms for cuts or redundancy. This sounded like fun! I was grateful to Saara Salomaa, a specialist media educator from the institute, for introducing it to me.


And why was I awe-struck? It struck me that this resource could only be produced in a country where media education is enshrined in law and an integral part of the curriculum. Neither are true of the UK and we certainly don’t have a government supported agency in charge of media education parallel to the one in Finland. The level of intellectual challenge and criticality demanded in this seemingly light-hearted game, speaks of a country comfortable with the role of the public in holding their politicians and journalists to account. And this was one of many resources (also available in English) encouraging children to engage critically, creatively and competently with the media. Significantly, Saara was visiting academics in the UK such as Professors Guy Merchant and Cathy Burnett with whom I have recently published Literacy, Media Technology: Past, Present Future. The visit was part of DigiLitEY a European funded project, enabling the dissemination of research focused on the very youngest children’s engagements with media. There is no shortage of relevant expertise and internationally renowned research in media education in the UK.

So, what matters to me this week is whether UK politicians and journalists could stop the ghoulish celebrity ambulance chasing and start to hold the population in enough esteem to campaign and report morally, ethically and with respect for expert professional opinion. Well maybe someday, if media education becomes enshrined in law in the UK and part of the curriculum they might. At least the young would then be able to spot the worst excesses of populist politics and journalism. In the meantime we will all have to play Populism Bingo! I think David and Victoria would approve.

Becky Parry is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham in the School of Education.

The School of Education takes no institutional position and all authors’ views are their own.

Merry Christmas!

Congratulations on making it through the first term!

We hope you all have a well-earned rest and enjoy spending time with the people that matter to you.

If you are already looking for some January inspiration, there are some fantastic events coming up in the new year:

On the 17th January, Lulu Healy will be exploring the role of the body’s senses and perception in doing, learning and teaching mathematics. ‘Seeing hearing and feeling mathematics: Learning from Disabled Students’ is free to attend.

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes of evidence-based policy? Dr Adetayo Kasim will be presenting a public seminar on the design and analysis of education trials on Tuesday 31st January.

We hope to as many of you there as possible.

What Matters is taking a short break over the festive period and will be back in January.






Monday INSET- Effective or just a non-uniform day?

By John Dexter.

INSET or as I like to call them non-uniform days. Over my teaching career I have done a lot of CPD – has it made me a better teacher? Yes I hope so, certainly some has challenged and made me change practice, hopefully for the better but a lot, especially some “done to me” hasn’t made much difference and I have sat thinking of all the jobs I have to do or would prefer to be doing.


Not more INSET please not more

Heck now I’m a head I can’t moan any longer but I can evolve our systems and CPD programmes and look for something better. One of the first areas I wanted to develop was CPD, we have great teachers and I love hearing their ideas so how do we capture that, mould it with current ideas and good practice even academic research? That was the challenge and I just didn’t have time so with a new deputy we set about working on a project. Huge credit to him for making this work, by working out the finer details, you know how it is -he does the work I take the credit; not today it was just too exciting. But let’s go back to the plans:

1.Get some topics we think the school could, should, might consider or be interested in, may or may not be on the development plan (summer 2015) BUT we are interested in.

2.Get some teachers who are enthusiasts on these topics or maybe their own topics?

3.Pay them – sadly no, no budget for that but maybe buy some time?

4.Give them a nice title “directors of learning” – 6 get going

5.Get them to choose a topic start some research/reading etc and tell the staff body about their projects Sept INSET day. Draw in a few other potential enthusiasts.

6.This becomes a learning community and the rule is to share the ideas, work out what might really make a difference in a classroom, try it; YES try it in a class in our school with our pupils and be preparing for a February INSET to share with rest of staff.

7.Meet them support them, get resources if necessary, bring in colleagues etc


”Directors of Learning” – gold stars

S0 in September through to February these little communities slogging away, reimageading about teaching and learning aspects of their topics, discussing with each other and other colleagues and then, that final rule they must try any ideas in their class, and do a bit of proper research and get feedback from staff, from observers, from pupils. [ and of course still teaching every day!]

So that was all going well but next up not just piloting with in the classroom sharing with that most critical of audiences – your colleagues – feels like the worst lesson observations ever.

Here were our topics

1.It’s not personal – How does student voice impact on teaching and learning

2.Don’t say please – Practical positive approaches to classroom behaviour management, using light touch and considering what to do for the “not very OK” pupils

3.Using data to inform day to day teaching and learning – instead of just looking at exam results and working out what did and didn’t happen, can those systems help us understand day to day interventions? can they help with new specs where we are in the dark a little about grading?

4.Why are questions worth thinking about? Are we still stuck on closed questions? Can we move the discussion on and will this lead to deeper learning?

5.Flipped learning – what impact can flipping the resource have on classroom time? How can we do it, what are the benefits and how might technology help us?

6.What does Independent Learning look like in the classroom? – a KS5 focus considering how we might use a) research b) group work)teaching methods and d) assessment to create more resilient independent learners.

Then today we had out INSET day whereby each community led a 45 minute workshop, repeated twice – Three slots for staff, and then followed by discussions in departments, what did you learn about, what might work in your subject. It wasn’t about throwing out old practice it was about tweaking it, was about marginal gains instead of marginal losses for all of us in the classroom. It was occasionally a reminder that praise does work and I need to bring that back a bit ….especially with my year ….

Don’t you love that buzz when colleagues from different subjects with different experience just get enveloped in the issues, jotting ideas and enthusing. Picking each others brains. “This worked in my class in our school, it made my practice better and their learning enhanced” “OK might try that”. Absolutely no need to worry about the gigantic lesson observations going on in your workshops – listen to the big buzz, the chatter, the concentration the “loving it” moments.

I do wish we had another INSET day tomorrow to get it all written into SoW or lesson plans but I know our staff, they’ll be trying stuff. Oh and follow up? Well from here we hope to try those ideas and feedback results to dept or pastoral teams, we have promised our Directors we will do that.

Next up we need to think if we can

  • continue the same topics and bring more effective learning
  • move to new topics.
  • bring in some more Directors
  • check out how staff are doing embedding the ideas
  • maintain a manageable workload but be more effective in the classroom

This blog was originally posted on John’s blog,, you can view the original post here.

The School of Education takes no institutional position and all authors’ views are their own.