For internet freedom, stop being lazy

2018 August 8 Wednesday 13:15

Some people have complained about chemistry content being subjected to YouTube censorship). Such people should stop whining; there are plenty of alternatives:

The wider point is that the earlier form of internet was far more self-sufficient. Users had to learn HTML, bulletin board etiquette, various network architecture such as IRC. Now we have big business, autocratic "western" governments (none of which have majority democratic mandates, but that's another story) seeking to interrupt dissenting views, minimise "terrorism" and encourage group-think. Sounds like a government funded school? Mmm...

A different view of GCE A-level results

2018 August 17 Friday 11:34

Despite what has been claimed elsewhere, A-level chemistry enrolment appears stable (it could be worse, such as "general studies" ;)). This post is good evidence of being in holiday mode: looking at one of the graphs published in 'Schools Week', the thought arose "how could this be presented better?".

So, fired up R and after reminded oneself of the syntax, produced this re-interpretation of the shares of grades. Once again, another example of the power of free(dom) software! :) gce a level grades 2018

Some have lamented, some have celebrated, the removal of coursework and "banking" of GCE AS levels (i.e. being able to convert an AS grade to contribute to a final A level grade). Personally, the separation of GCE AS from GCE A should be considered a good thing, schools should be more imaginative in offering wide range of subjects.

As for coursework, maybe there should be some sort of optional "course endorsement" record, similar to the extant practical endorsement component. The course endorsement could be a brief summary of factors such as: lesson attendance (good, poor); lesson participation (active, passive); collaboration (good, poor); independent study; extra-curricular participation (e.g. (inter)national subject competitions).

Results relief, happiness

2018 August 24 Friday 15:17

Compared to inheritance of this year's GCE A students, there was more trepidation of the GCSE class of 2018; a sense of greater responsibility for a younger class of students, the first to start this great career. What if results were poor? Blame the (novice) teacher? Sacked for incompetence? Change career (again)? Thankfully, none of those things yet. It was really nice to see many students taught, express gratitude and surprise by most (not all) at their greater–than–expected results. Hopefully some will be enthused to join the sixth form (why hasn't a better phrase arisen to replace this?). After next week, attention will begin to turn to next year: earlier nights' sleep to adjust to the return of the alarm clock (!); getting the appropriate provisions for lunch; clothes, shoes, etc.; (brief) lesson plans. Well done GCSE guys! :) :)

Back to work feeling

2018 August 28 Tuesday 10:05

Final week of holiday, but it is time to get used to early and disciplined starts to the day. No more late nights :(

Last year it was a bit of a revelation that lesson planning was shorter due to a bit more experience and the ability to re-use content made last year. This year seems a little different. On one of those "raining afternoons" of tidying (electronic) files, arrangement of documents into appropriate directories, a newer problem has arisen. What to do with all those documents, videos, audio files that have been collated during those times to research for suitable content to produce a lesson plan? Whilst it may be easier and quicker to re-use previous content for lessons, when does the style and/or content become dated, or irrelevant to the current cohort. As an example, a previous exam paper may refer to the colour codes for cable wires in an electrical plug, or a picture of an incandescent filament bulb. How many students today are aware?

So, the plan this year is to spend a bit of time reviewing extant content residing in a hard drive directory somewhere, then consider if still relevant before deciding to use or not. Prediction: lesson plan time will not decline further compared to last year.


2018 August 31 Friday 10:02

Whilst it is good to see that there seems to be an attempt to recognise the educational theory should be relevant (by the researchers) and be aware of (by the teachers), some people inevitably fall in love with a particular ideology and defend it regardless of new information that may arise and suggest a change is required. It was nice to read earlier this week, a nice article (warning: a long essay, but worth it!) questioning some aspects of the some leading edu-celebrities educationalists. Mortgages, careers, power all become dependent, so no real surprise.

This writer's opinion? Read widely around the three main aspects of teaching: your subject, pedagogy in general and increasingly, educational technology. Then make up your own mind what will work for you. Finally, consider to write a blog; you never know who else could benefit! :)