Friday, 22 May 2015

Education, education, education

Having a daughter, who sat assessments at age 7, had to go through rigorous 11+ exams to get into the next school and will soon be facing GCSE, AS and the choice between A-level and International Bacc, while at the same time already applying for Uni ...

Having an eleven year old son who has been sitting pretests and was interviewed for schools that maybe take him on in 2 1/2 years (explain that to him!) ...

Being confronted with an exam culture that leaves parents and teachers exasperated and in straight jackets, I have gotten more and more frustrated.  And mind you, I am getting frustrated with the top tier of schooling in this country, or to be fair and more accurate: with the mind set of politics  that seems to hinder evolution and blocks brilliant teachers.

“…research shows that creativity can suffer when people are promised rewards for creative work, when learning conditions stress competition and social comparisons, or when individuals are highly aware of being monitored and evaluated by others. Conversely, creativity generally thrives in environments that support personal interest, involvement, enjoyment, and engagement with challenging tasks” —Beghetto & Kaufman, 2013

Recently I came across the immersive education start up AltSchool. They are trying to make education customisable, immersive and non-restrictive as well as scalable. Non of their ideas are, on their own, cutting edge  (I am no expert but there is a bit of Steiner, Montessori and Dewey etc to be found). However, putting them all together and employing digital tools to transform education could be a step in the right direction. 
There is so much out there that could push the educational boundaries - starting with Apps, tablets, digital books, e learning, computer programs etc. It’s become increasingly clear that integrating technology into traditional education is vital to make students fit for the 21st century and all it has to offer, and all there is to get on with!
However much schools here in the UK use these devises though, it seems to me that they only transfer old fashioned teaching onto a new devise (as demanded by the rigorous exam culture).

This centralised exam culture in the UK and the focus on introducing more and more tests is stopping schools to move into the 21st century as well as ignoring a holistic approach to learning which, instead of bringing us forward, denies children to understand the world and its subject in an altogether more 'organic' way.
In our world the Renaissance man of the past is not possible anymore, but we should not deny our kids (and teachers!!) an interdisciplinary approach, aided by technology. Otherwise they will loose the connection and understanding of so much that is going on out there and we will end up with disciplines that do not know how to interact with each other.

Here is a link to the Altschool website and a link to a graduate school, the Makeschool that also tries something a little bit different. Exciting!!!!!

found here

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Easter Ideas

Love the colours

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Boat Race

Here in London the unofficial start of spring coincides with the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race. This year the race will take place on Saturday April 11. The men will start at 17.50 but - for the first time ever, the women will join!!!  Hurrah and high time !!! They start at 16.50!!

The whole race takes around 16 to 18 min (Cambridge holds the record of 16 min 19 sec). It starts at Putney Bridge (see Blog photo above). Blink at your own peril. Depending on where you stand, you will see them for about 2 min or less and then you have to find a guy with a radio or follow it on your phone. The atmosphere however along the river is very jolly, pubs are full, obviously, and the bridges are bursting, too.

If you like t see a bit more action, come to the Head of the River Race. The women's race will be on the 14th March with an early start at 9.30., the men's race is on 29th March with around 400 crews who row the championship course in reverse, from Mortlake to Putney. If you miss a boat, chances are very high that you will be able to follow a few others ....

The Schools' Head is this year on Monday 16 March, from 13.00. According to the website there are 347 boats!

Blue prints: 100 years of vintage Tube Boat Race posters
found on Pinterest

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Fourth Plinth

The Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square was originally intended to hold an equestrian statue of William IV, but remained bare due to insufficient funds.
After over 150 years of debate and a commission of three artworks by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (love that name!) to be displayed temporarily on the plinth in 1998 it was finally decided to keep a rolling program of contemporary artworks.

After last year's very blue ( and arguably french) rooster by Katharina Fritsch, Hans Haacke's Gift Horse will be installed this Thursday.

Gift Horse by Hans Haacke, maquette
found here

An electronic ribbon is tied to the front leg, displaying the ticker of the London Stock Exchange. I am intrigued!

Friday, 30 January 2015

A Language Family Tree

language map

found here

Check out this great language tree in the Guardian! There are more detailed pictures if you follow the link. I just checked a link between Finnish and Turkish an American/Finish friend, living in Istanbul, had told me about. Love playing language detective...

Monday, 19 January 2015

Make Life Worth Living

The harsh reality of poor housing in sixties Britain. An exhibition at the Science Museum

by Nick Hedges (National Media Museum, Bradford)

Looking at these pictures, my only thoughts are: And this was in the late sixties?