- The ‘Independent-sponsored’ Peer Awards are to be held at Merrill Lynch Bank of America by St. Paul’s in the city on June 26-28th, 2013
- TESconnect Holborn, London, UK
Sharing thousands of fantastic free teaching resources, talking about all things education and helping you to be the best teacher you can be
- Good to Great an interesting blog from stephanie dedhar
- Find a tutor – or a tutee from Tutor Hunt
- Learning Without Frontiers
- Helena (Abi) Foss writes with incredible wisdom about the female body
- Moodle Quick Links
- Now Finished: EpCopMOOC See: a community of practice around ePortfolio for VETs in Australia
- Now Finished: JISC E-Learning Conference 2011
- Now finished:MobiMOOC – free open on-line learning course about mobile technologies. However the discussions on the course wiki can be seen here
In Britain over the last twelvemonth we have found our public library services cut, and in some cases lost altogether. this makes me very sad because if it wasn’t for the little public library in Twydall Green (and the incomparable Miss Horsley the Librarian) I would never have managed to have earned myself a proper liberal education. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent query from one of my younger grandchildren lead me to firstly explain and then later (because of course the are of the video-liking generation) hunting down a decent short explanation.
Try http://www.wimp.com/internetworks for a really good explanation in just over three minutes.
Day trip to London
Now that I am semi-retired, a long trip, once a weekly event and even quite recently something I undertook most months has become quite rare, so I thought it was time to record my feelings. Yesterday was not my last trip for this year but it did happen to be the first to Waterloo and central London this year and, for once, I was not rushing to attend a meeting as soon as I arrived but in fact had four hours to pleasurable fill before my reason for the journey actually happened. Read the rest of this entry »
See if you can work this out.
The answer is now shown overleaf but do try to work it out before you look at that!
If 1 = 2 and 2 = 10 and 3 = 30 and 4 = 68
what does 5 equal?
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - Read the rest of this entry »
The Constuctal Law of Design and Evolution in Nature
A public lecture by Professor Adrian Bejan, Duke University held a Portsmouth University on 1st May 2013.
“The recurring patterns of nature have long puzzled even the most devoted proponents of chance and Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the Constuctal Law changes the terms of this debate, and shows that a single law of physics governs the ‘design’ behind everything that moves – whether animate or inanimate. According to the Constuctal Law, shapes and structures arise because they facilitate movement in animal design, river basin shape, traffic patterns, social dynamic, technology and the evolution of sport
I spent a highly enjoyable hour and a quarter in the company of Professor Bejan, an MIT trained, Romanian gentleman scholar who is currently the J.A.Jones Distinguished Professor at Duke University as he delivered an engaging and wide-ranging lecture showing how certain principles apply not only to engineering but also to many fields of design, construction and understanding. His exposition is that there is a definite, measurable connection between science and art which most normally expresses itself in ‘ drawings, images that whilst art-like, also underpin his law, expressed in 1996, ‘for a flow system to persist in time it must evolve freely such that it provides greater access to its currents.
To fully comprehend this it is critical to understand that in Professor Bejan’s view of the world, design in nature is a phenomenon, in the same way that gravity is a scientific phenomenon. Design is a ‘flow’, a fractal division of one substance or substrate by a force, such as water. Imagine a ‘new’ river growing across a sandy desert. Observation of a model of such short system where the water is flowing fairly slowly will be noted to create a pattern comprised of both simplicity and complexity. The simplicity is that each channel will be observed to form four tributaries. The complexity lies in the distance along each channel that the next tributary forms, in which direction and at what angle to the main channels from which it branches. Design is a matter of pattern and diversity, complex and subtle but with definite patterns contained within itself.
Professor Bejan’s fairly obvious contention is that ‘broadly speaking’ in sport, as in life, bigger ~ faster. For example in the 100 metre sprint Ursain Bolt is bigger than most of his competitors,.and so is the blue whale and the antelope. OK the cheetah may be faster over a short distance but for the long haul, where power is best defined as “burning fuel to a purpose”, the bigger animal will burn fuel most efficiently. Velocity ~ (mass)1/6 whilst length ~ (mass)1/2 and this is true for the human and machine ‘species’. An example is that slavery, which had existed since the very start of recorded human history, was only (mostly) abandoned when the recent invention of an effective steam engine meant that humans could ‘afford’ to abandon slavery for a more effective burning fuel tobacco purpose system.
Using the ‘S’ curve familiar from the growth of yeast, Professor Bejan’s story now investigated the ‘design in time’s model, from which he concludes that a combination of ‘fast and long’ combined with an equal time allocation of ‘short and slow’ travel underpins much of our world. Using the model of European and North American hub airports and local transport systems and the ‘perfect’ model of Atlanta airport. This idea rewritten as few large and many small systems works for oil delivery to and from Rotterdam, and even the food chain where few predators prey on many much less efficient smaller prey animals.
A series of questions followed including one where, by using pure grammar, the Professor managed to disarm an ‘intelligent design’ argument that a design implies a designer. Was I convinced, yes but I think that in the states such an argument might run into more fundamental and critical audiences, however as a Philosophy of Science lecture this was excellent use of time and his book, free he argues from equations (which must be a unique statement for a physicist), Design in Nature, has to be worth a look.
The Future of Further Education – New Bubbles National Conference
To Guildford, a new place for me, full of history, two rivers and a very moving outdoor art installation at the Lee Meadows next to the River Wey made from old trees. The line that introduces this, “Today I have grown taller, for walking with the trees”, carved into old gnarled wood, set the scene for what, for me was a wonderful day deep in ‘darkest’ Surrey, when at least metaphorically I grew taller for walking among, and listening to, giants.
And what great Sequioas from the further education forest had been gathered by New Bubbles, the educational and training consultancy, for their national conference. A previous Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo, four Professors and some of the key players in this important sector, now suffering major changes under the austerity and deregulation agenda being driven by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for, but with little understanding of, Education who, coincidently represents a parliamentary constituency which includes the village of Ash which lies within Guildford Borough.
Two excellent, but somewhat and deliciously contradictory, keynote addresses by Michael Portillo and Professor Frank Coffield, set the scene for the lively discussion which followed. For me, this panel session featuring those two keynote speakers, the well known Geoff Petty and Toni Fazaeli from the Institute for Learning, Matthew Coffey, National Director, Learning and Skills from OFSTED, Dan Taubman from UCU plus a number of current researchers in the field, was the central, and most exciting session of the day. Chaired by Dr. John Lee, this one hour session was run like the BBC’s Question Time and ranged over a plethora of interesting and pertinent topics without going over old ground and so was deeply moving and extremely uplifting too. It is claimed, with some justification, that “never before has there been such a collection of distinguished speakers under one roof”, and whilst this might be disputed by some, I have rarely heard erudite people so willing to speak with conviction and to put aside petty jealousies for the sake of developing a coherent argument around the further education dilemma nor have I often listened to such realistic and thought-proving answers to the many difficulties that aim endlessly to deflect us from our key purpose. Whether, in the end, Government will choose to go with Frank Coffield’s call to abolish OFSTED, is almost irrelevant. That a panel of the most impressive collection of speakers seen at any conference this year, could seriously and defiantly discuss such weighty matters, with humour and humility was enough and challenging in the extreme. The discussion was followed by the first of several networking opportunities where open and frank discussion of what further education, in the widest possible meaning of that phrase, will have to contend with in the new world of austere and restricted opportunities where we now find ourselves, was to be heard in every corner.
Three collections of workshops then followed. These ranged in subject matter from equality and diversity, stress and wellbeing, assessment and achievement to professional development, planning, lesson observation and culture. I attended three: Robert Powell’s Planning for Outstanding where the principles developed in a highly successful Sheffield school are now taught in FE Colleges all over Britain. These can be summarised as: I must, I should and I could, a challenge any of us can surely aspire towards. Ideal preparation not only for an upcoming inspection but also key to thinking through professional upskilling, a key need for all teachers in the current climate of change and endless pressure first more and better; Professor Dylan Wiliam’s Teacher Learning Communities – fully worked through communities of practice operating within individual institutions – and making a plea for a new years resolution to stop doing some good things, to make time to do even better things! And finally I spent a challenging hour with the superb John Perry on the subject of Managing Organisational Stress, a subject very close to my heart and one where a combination of research and simple technique can ease strain on everyone in the workforce, when permissible.
From discussion, it is clear that all delegates had been able to discover and explore their own practice, compare this with best practice and current or recent research and left feeling not only ready to face the cold, wet and snow for the journey home, but with teaching and learning batteries recharged and exciting times ahead. If, as I firmly believe, CPD is a way of life that supports life long learning, this conference was truly the key to self reflection and understanding not only of the challenges of this year’s development, but moreover contained many of the embryonic solutions to solving some of those challenges too. We’ll done, New Bubbles, more power to your own future.
I am very grateful to the British Red Cross for their freely available booklet on this critical subject. Click here to read and access this and my own DSE equipment testing kit, both of which naturally are presented as Moodle course sections.
I hope that some of you will consider joining me in Portsmouth on 16th June for this excellent seminar:
Early attachment, the sexualisation of adolescence and the regression of early teenage years are all part of what it means to be a girl today. This talk puts special emphasis on the impact of external demands on internal conflicts and how this affects growing up female
Click here: to read a report of an earlier – male oriented – conference in this same annual ‘series’.