Last week I had the opportunity to visit the European Parliament in Brussels, as part of a European School Heads Association meeting taking place in Belgium. It was an opportune time to do so, given the profile the debate over Britain’s membership of the EU has had over the past couple of weeks, triggered by the vote in the House of Commons last week. I have to confess that, although long a supporter of European cooperation, I have in recent years felt more cynical of the workings of the EU, and far more luke-warm about it than I once did. However, the excellent presentation we had in Brussels from the education team there addressed head-on many of the issues which are regularly used to bash the EU here. In short, we were asked to consider that the EU is a treaty-based union, and there are whole areas of government and national life which are not included in the treaties. Agreeing to remain distinctive and individual, and do things in different ways country by country, does not stop us trying to do some projects also jointly. The presence in our group of a number of representatives from head teacher associations in the former Yugoslav countries was a poignant reminder of what can still happen, even in Europe, when trust breaks down.
There is a new visitor and education centre at the European Parliament, called the ‘Parlementarium’, which seemed to me well worth a visit with a group of students interested in politics and international affairs. Watch this space!
I have just finished reading one of the Booker prize shortlisted novels, ‘Snowdrops’, by A D Miller. I recommend it – a well written and tense story which provides a reflection of the consequences of being lulled into a way of living or a course of action which ends up being disastrous – willfully not seeing what is under our noses. An allegory for a number of aspects of our contemporary world. Next I am going to tackle Robert Harris’ latest offering, ‘the Fear Index’, billed as a thriller about the financial crash. I am getting my brain in gear for 300 pages of hedge funds and government bonds and other things I scarcely understand!