Month: May 2011

Cops: Woman Tries to Kill Children, Self to Avoid ‘the Tribulation’

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Cops: Woman Tries to Kill Children, Self to Avoid ‘the Tribulation’.

All jokes aside about how the ‘end of the world’ failed to come to pass. This is a the disturbing side of a very small minority of religious zealots who twist the Bible and religion into something that is downright dangerous.

Camping – the man who failed (again) to correctly predict the end of the world and who sits with millions in the bank should be arrested and brought to account for what he did to the mind of this woman.

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Pensions – a real concern

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Pensions are a major worry. I know that when I started working the idea of a pension was far removed from my day-to-day life and having enough money to live on.  But this government is intent on breaking contractual agreements and changing terms and conditions with no consideration. So the unions are taking them to court. I hope they win.

When I entered teaching the pension was part of the attraction. I’m not great at saving money and making shrewd investments (my late sister was and always had a go about how bad I was!). But the idea that I would have a final salary pension, index linked was for me a small compensation for a lower salary. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I was told – you can’t moan about your salary as you will great a great pension!

Well it seems that promises can be broken. The terms and conditions changed with no negotiation and we will all have to work longer, pay more and get back less.

We are told not to complain as our pensions are still very good, we are told that many will have no pension.

OK, I will have to work longer (each time I see a retirement on the horizon the age goes up).

OK I have to pay a bit more (yes we all (except bankers and MPs) have to sacrifice for the mistakes of others.

But in the end I will have less to live on (to be honest part of my pension is protected, but from now on it will change). I guess I can cope with that idea and make some plans (there must be a successful book in me somewhere that can supplement my pension).

But what annoys me most and makes me want to rebel is that having raided the pensions – don’t forget that the previous government stole a wad of cash from the pension scheme when it was in a very healthy surplus  and has not paid it back – the present government now says that the schemes cannot cover the costs. Well, yes, partly because a previous government stole some of the pot! And to cap it all if I ever need help in old age the government will say – gosh you have money so why not give what you have to us to pay for your help – sell your home pay through the nose from your pension to home help etc.

Now contrast that with someone who just rents a home, has no fortune, no payout, no pension. Then the gov has to step in and pay. They will pay rent and pay for care. So where is the incentive for me to save and be careful? Surely I should blow the lot on fast living. Perhaps that’s it – spend everything waste the lot sell the house blow the cash and sit back and let the state pay – that way I retrieve the money stolen and taken from my pension pot.

Of course that’s not the answer, but it does make you wonder. I would like to change the terms and conditions of the national insurance and tax that I pay – do you think if I show my credit card bills and my overall debt I can pay less tax as my prime concern now is to reduce my deficit? Sorry Inland Revenue – can’t pay the full tax, so I’m paying tax on a different scale that’s lower so that I can reduce my budgetary deficit over the next five years.

A Better Way to Teach? – ScienceNOW

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Academic Teacher
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Better Way to Teach? – ScienceNOW.

Stop the Press! Hold the front page! Lecturing at students isn’t necessarily the best way to teach!

How fascinating that for the full 25 years I’ve been in science teaching I’ve known that getting children to work through misconceptions, problem solve and have hands-on experience with science through investigations is a better way to get them to understand science rather than just telling them all about it. Yet only now are some academics ‘getting it’!

This is a flawed study (as pointed out in one of the posts) and the effect does seem very ‘large’ and this could be due to the methodology used in this study. But there is no doubt that this type of teaching produces better results. The problem that we have of course is that it is also expensive and many lecturers who will believe that the prime concern of universities is research not teaching will not wish to increase their teaching loads in order to achieve such results. With fees now considerably higher, the consumer may well demand more teaching and more contact with the big names in their universities – that will place pressure on the profs to do more teaching and less research and that could affect the university world ranking.

I wonder how this paradox will be solved? Read the rest of this entry »

School Report

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One year on and how has Michael Gove and the coalition performed on education?

Here’s my brief school report:

Name: Michael Gove

Form: 7DfE

Michael can be a charismatic, if not a very popular,
member of his class. Overall he has not fulfilled his potential this year, but
there are glimmers of hope that he could make substantial improvements were he
to listen more to his teachers.

English

Michael is an enthusiastic reader and he has set himself
a target of reading 50 books in a year. This is ambitious and I do hope that
his other work will not suffer as he tries to meet this target. My advice to
Michael is that is not just the quantity of books that he reads that matters,
but the quality of the books and his reflection on their meaning that counts.

Mathematics

Michael appears to be very enthusiastic about mathematics
and he does appreciate that maths is important, not just as a subject in its
own right, but elsewhere, such as in science, business studies and technology.
I do have one concern. He seems to be obsessed by tables. Learning his tables
can be very useful, but Michael should try to widen his interests to algebra,
geometry and basic arithmetic. There have been occasions where his basic
numbers don’t add up. My advice to Michael is to ensure that he checks his
calculations carefully before committing them to paper.

Science

Michael seems to think that there are just three separate
sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – and that learning in science is only
about doing experiments and gaining facts. He needs to understand that while there
are three traditional subjects, modern sciences are much more inter-related. In
addition there are other sciences, like geology and astronomy which are
exciting and important. He needs to understand that the process of science and
how the different subjects link together is very important if he is to become
scientifically literate. His obsession with chemistry and physics means that he
is apt to ignore the other sciences. Michael must gain a better understanding
of how science works. It’s important that he realises that simply learning the
facts of science will not make him a scientist.

Physical
Education

Michael had a very shaky start to the year and refused to
take part fully in his PE lessons. I’m pleased that he has come around, but he
is still a reluctant student. Michael appears to enjoy watching competitive
sport and likes to assist the PE staff in compiling league tables for the
sports day – he appears to be a reluctant competitor. I would say to Michael
that taking part is just as important as winning and that not all PE lessons
must be competitive to be considered useful.

Technology

This is one area where Michael must improve considerably.
Although we prefer to report on positive achievement rather than failure,
Michael’s work on this year’s ‘building project’ as part of his GCSE course
work was poor to say the least. His initial work was full of errors and had to
be corrected a few times. Rather than consult with his teachers about his
project he decided to simply go ahead and produce what can only be described as
sub-standard work. This bull-at-gate attitude ended in a trip to the Head’s
office where he was reprimanded and told to go back to his class and consult
with his teachers. It may be too late now to change his project as the school
year comes to an end. I hope that Michael has learned his lesson and will, in
future, listen more closely to his teachers.

Humanities

Michael has not excelled himself in this area, but
neither is his contribution to the subject very poor. He is quiet in class and
works steadily, but appears not to care about the humanities. I am encouraged
that he enjoys British History and wants to learn more than just the names of
the six wives of Henry the eighth and how Hitler came to power and the
second-world-war. Again, he must understand that history is not just about learning
dates. In geography he has taken an interest in the rivers of Britain, but
simply learning their names and the locations of major cities will not be
enough to satisfy a subject that is global in nature.

Summary

Michael’s main problem is that he tends to rush into
things without thinking through the consequences of his actions. This leads to
him making too many mistakes. Michael has volunteered to be on the school
uniform and anti-bullying and discipline committees. While his teachers welcome
his input on these important issues, he must be realistic and understand that
making major changes in schools is costly and takes time. His teachers only
have so many hours in the day that they can devote to his suggested changes. He
must also remember that his best work will come when he listens carefully to
his teachers and not just to the people who shout the loudest.

Shock News: TV drama isn’t ‘real life’

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This is a shocker. Apparently there is a need to post a story on the BBC News website to tell people that ‘Eastenders’ is not an accurate depiction of real life in the east-end.

Now at first I thought it was funny, then very sad that such a story is needed. I know that some people (a few – not many) can’t separate a TV character from the real-life actor, but come on, isn’t this a bit silly? Do we have to have an official statement to say that Eastenders provides viewers with stereotypes of ‘eastenders’ – that real ‘eastenders’ tend not to have slanging matches in pubs every night, steal babies etc. etc.

Surely people KNOW that casualty and Holby City are not real – that patients don’t recover so quickly from surgery – that operating theatres are very light places with lots of people not dark with an intense light on the patient and just a few people in attendance.

Surely people KNOW that the police don’t solve murders within 90 minutes; that most of police work is taking and sifting through statements and data; that forensic teams and detectives need to be covered head to toe (not very good on camera). So, rules about crime scene contamination are broken using ‘artistic licence’. They must realise that a DNA test can’t be done in a matter of a couple of hours – it will take some days. I’ve even seen a programme where, in order to get a DNA sample, a person’s hair was CUT and put into a bag – – sloppy science, science there is no DNA in the shaft of the hair – you need roots!

Perhaps I’m turning (OK I’ve turned) into a grumpy old man, but it seems to me that the line between reality and fiction is more and more blurred. Could it be because the filmmakers are getting better at making the fiction more realistic? the writers are giving us characters that are also ‘real’.

'ello, 'ello, 'elloDixon of Dock Green never really existed I suppose and we saw such fictional police as a happy stereotype of what we wanted.

So too, the cheeky cockney (AKA Tommy Steele) who was a stereotype that perhaps we wanted to believe in but knew that it didn’t exist.

Yet when I look at a number of characters on TV – I don’t see people often that I ‘like’. I see well drawn characters that are designed to evoke strong emotions of love, hate, revulsion, pity etc. In real life people can evoke all those feelings I guess, but ultimately life is quite ‘boring’ and were we to film actual ‘real life’ the ratings would be zero. This must be the case, as, when ‘real life’ 24/7 was transmitted (Big Brother) the inhabitants almost had to be extreme in order to make the mundane palatable (no, you guessed it, I wasn’t  a fan and in general reality TV does not do much for me).

Must go, Holby City is about to start and, just in case I go into hospital for an op I need to know how ‘real’ hospitals work!!