This means something to me... Oh, Vienna!

It's one of the genuine travesties of the late-20th Century that Ultravox's 1981 clsssic was kept off the top spot of the charts by this...

Vienna. It might have meant nothing to ?Midge Ure and the rest of the band 36 years ago but over the weekend it certainly meant something to me.

Because I was privileged to have been invited to present a paper - always love how much more grandiose that sounds than 'speak at' - an international conference in The Austrian capital: the inaugural meeting of The International Association for the Interdisciplinary Study of Sport...

Global Symposium Programme Vienna

The focus of my ‘paper’ was how, at Park House, we have used the Olympic and Paralympic values to theme learning across the curriculum. This has been a legacy of our pioneering work on the London 2012 Get Set education programme - an approach which, as I described last week, is now also reaching forward to Tokyo 2020...


It’s certainly true that this Olympic and Paralympic themed work has been at the forefront of our innovative approaches to Interdisciplinary learning here at Park House.

But it’s equally true that my interest in thematic approaches - which takes young people’s learning outside traditional subject silos, whilst still drawing on subject context - predates any 2012-triggered initiatives. I’ve always, for example,  been attracted by the approachembodied in the RSA’s pathfinder Opening Minds programme…



Skills and competencies.

Why not, for example, theme a Year 7’s  first term’s learning around a concept like ‘Change’? Just think how innovatively you could explore this through History, or Chemistry, or Geography. Or what about ‘Movement’? Art, Music, Dance, PE, Physics. At the same time, developing integrated skills, competencies and qualities such as resilience and confidence to sit alongside content delivery.

And my very personal interest in interdisciplinary learning of this type actually goes back even further than professional engagement as a qualified teacher and, appropriately, brings me back full circle to this weekend’s visit to Vienna.

When I was in Year 12 - it was called the Lower Sixth in those days - we were challenged by our History teacher to identify where learning in another subject area that we didn’t study at A Level could enhance our understanding of the 19th and early 20th Century European History syllabus on which we were to be examined.


I chose Art. And specifically the work of the Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt, whose decorative, iconoclastic  style challenged tradition and, for me, helped to capture the dissonant, ‘fin de siècle tensions that characterised the period leading up to the outbreak of the First World War.

Thank you, Mr. Main. The approach - remember this was c.1982 - was a revelation at the time in terms of breaking away from the artificial constraints of being taught in narrow subject silos. And it’s stuck with me.

Today, I at last made it to The Belvedere.


So that’s I guess one of the main reasons why Vienna really does mean something to me...