Tag Archives: education

stuff

Ages since I updated this, so time for a bit more stuff.

Right now we are near an election and politicians are starting to be even greater arseholes than usual! So I thought I’d throw in my two penny worth of thoughts and that wonderful catch-all word – stuff.

There are two areas which would be my proverbial ‘sacred cows’ where, even in times of recession I would not cut back on.

The first is education. So much comes from an educated population. There is the obvious such as better employment opportunities, but there are also the less talked about consequences such as better health and being able to look after yourself. A better attitude to live and of well-being. A greater awareness of the social situation (local and national) around you, reduced crime. Schools would be co-educational, however classes would be single gender. There would also be streaming by subject. The core curriculum thing would be a lot simpler and go back to basics and be based around the old 3 r’s of reading, writing and arithmetic with time for fitness (not necessarily sport, but general exercise) and – perhaps a little bit odd – music. If there is one thing children love, that’s music. Whether it’s singing, playing specific musical instruments, or just making a noise by just bashing a drum! No specialist skills required, a fun social activity that can be done by anyone or everyone, regardless of abilities. An informal, natural creative form of expression that can help to build self-confidence.
As a side line, school lunch would be free.

The other area would be defence. Regardless of attitudes to the rights or wrongs of fighting and war, if we are going to send people into these situations and have them die for us, we can do nothing less than give them the best chances with the best equipment, training and support. This also includes support to them after they leave the services, and to their families in the event of their death or injury during service. I would see an expansion in the number of servicemen, and use this as a back-door way to improve levels of skills and health. Especially targeting those, probably very early 20s, who arseholed around at school and thus messed up things there. Many now realise they fu*ked up then, so this would now give them a chance to get some skills and education. Also now doing this with an ‘adult’ attitude to life rather than trying to do it while going through all the problems involved with adolescence.

As for things like health, what do we expect from a (free) health service. A universal free service for treatment for every single thing we want – oh look, a skin blemish, I want it ‘treated’ so I can look prettier – or something that actually concentrates on illness and discomfort. Should it be restricted to our own citizens (who pay the taxes to fund it), or open to anyone who happens to be in the country at the time and who wants or needs treatment (what defines a ‘health tourist’?). Have we developed into a society that expects everything to be fixed, and no longer can accept that some thing are just what they are, so live with them.

Would love to see an expansion of the rail network especially across more country / rural areas (if this means cutting back on roads, so be it). Even if the trains that run on the track are run by private companies, the track, signalling and stations should be run as part of the country’s essential infrastructure rather than something just to make a profit. Once a town has reached a certain level of population, then there should be a legal requirement for it to be attached to the rail network. There should also be big incentives to get freight, especially that going long distance, off the roads and onto rail.

Just a few thoughts.

Students. Gatherings.

I often have lunch in my local university chaplaincy building. It has a small cafe which does baked potatoes plus filling, toasties, that sort of stuff, but at sensible prices. The entrance to it is through a rather narrow staircase. As I was going in recently a large crowd were just leaving (after a lunchtime service) so I backed out of the way to let then through. Not one of them bothered to say ‘thanks’ or even just give some nod of acknowledgement as they passed. Ummm… Interesting. All, of course, ‘good Christians’.
We had a small Gathering here in Glasgow last Saturday. Depends a bit on how you define ‘small’, something between 20 and 25 local YouTubers just chilling out for the afternoon and evening. First a visit to a Dr Who exhibition, then a do-nothing time in Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and once the evening arrived retire to the Starbucks inside Borders bookshop. For about one third of them, their first Gathering ever, and they all seemed to enjoy themselves.
Busy time in work (university). Student projects all approaching deadlines, so am in demand, to help them on their way. Really does highlight those who make the effort, and those who just expect things to be done for them! One or two really nice projects coming to a ‘working’ condition. A couple of wireless remote-controlled submersibles, a small two cylinder two-stroke engine, designed, engineered and constructed from scratch, a baby hovercraft… it’s nice to see these reach finishing stages.
But for those finishing, in two weeks time they will be gone. This phase of life about to end. They’ve spent the last 5 years together as a group; studying, socialising, eating, drinking, (sleeping?) with each other, having come in as teenagers, leaving as adults. Very shortly they will be together for the very last time – never again to be as a group. Such is life.

January exams, and a Sheffield Gathering

New Year’s come and gone, some good BlogTV stuff over that period. And now it’s the middle of exam time at Uni. Whoever had the ‘bright idea’ of having exams at the start of January should have their bollocks crushed between two bricks! Why not start the Uni term / semester a couple of weeks earlier and then hold the exams before Christmas, even if they are not marked till January?
Of course, with the students concentrating on exam stuff they’re not bothering me with prokect work. This does mean I have no excuse now for not getting on with all those tasks that I hate doing but have managed to delay and delay. Oh Shit, never mind.
Another Gathering attended in January, down in Sheffield. Well attended with a few well known YouTubers, which was nice. A bit too cold and wet, but then it is the middle of winter, so what in the fu*k do you expect!!! However I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Sheffield may be very nice as an open-planned city centre, but it does mean that there are very few covered places that a large crowd can go to and not be in the way, or upsetting security staff. Not a problem being stuck outside when it’s warm, but not when it’s cold, wet and rather windy. But still had a good time 🙂

Week 3

O.K., so we’re only into week 3, but by the end of this week we’ll be 1/4 the way through the semester already. Funny really, each time I mention this to the students, and then ask them ‘what have you learnt in this first quarter’, they all turn round and find some quite novel ways of expressing themselves back to me.
One or two are (at last) starting to think about their projects, I hope they get their fingers out soon, or we’ll have the usual thing of everyone turning up towards the end, wanting everything engineered and made up for them, all at the same time!
Anyway, by the end of next week it’ll be 1/3 of the semester gone! Oh well, exams before you know it!

Semester start.

Well, Uni’s started again, and the place is full of the usual crowd of lost souls wandering around (cluttering up the corridors) trying to find their lecture rooms and the like.
The computer labs have filled up. Not much study mind you, but lots of on-line games and catching up on YouTube and BeBo. There’s always one ‘silly game’ which becomes the favourite for that year – by this time next week it should become apparent what it’ll be.
I guess I’ll have to admit that it’s kind of nice to see some familiar faces around, and find out their marks from the previous year’s projects, especially those that I was involved in.

I’ve found I can split the students into three distinct groups:-

A minority group who really should not be here. The amount of effort they put in is minimal, and expect everything to be done for them. They’re usually easily spotted – when they hit a problem they don’t understand, their reaction is to say something like “…but we haven’t been taught that…” No, or little effort to discover or to find out, just expect everything to be handed to them. Sorry, this is not a school with ‘teachers’, but a university where you are expected to get off you arse and do some research.
They also very rarely bother to say ‘thank-you’ when people help them. Most will get through the course and get their degree, but…. Oh well.

A majority middle group of good guys and girls who get on and get their stuff done. Generally an O.K. group to work with. They’ll get through their courses, probably with mixed marks – though usually in the mid to high area, and end up with some nice jobs. Good for them.

Then a final minority group who really do make the effort. They are usually, but not necessarily the brightest, but really do knuckle down and when they hit a problem they don’t understand, their reaction is to go and investigate it and sort it out themselves. When they do ask for assistance they usually want to know how to solve the problem, so they can then go and do it themselves, rather than just to be given the answer. This crowd, I must admit, is really good to work with, and from whom I learn lots. The sad thing is that they will end up with the same overall type of qualification as those who really made bugger-all effort, but got through the system. Such is life.