As teachers, most of us are happy to spend hours giving out about all that’s wrong with our education system and what should change. All too few of us however are prepared to put our head above the parapet and take the time to make our opinions public (with the obvious exception of salary talks). It doesn’t help that the main teacher organisations are reluctant to set up discussion forums – possibly for fear of legal repercussions should the wrong thing be said.
Which is why we are delighted to welcome morestresslesssuccess to the blogosphere. The blogger in question is Humphrey Jones (pictured above) of thefrogblog fame. It’s best described by himself:
More Stress, Less Success is a blog about being a teacher – a busy one. But more specifically it is about recognising the work that teachers do in a society where they are rarely valued. It’s also about exploring new ways to teach and learn, specifically using technology.
I don’t know if I would say that teachers are rarely valued – personally I believe that as a profession we could be doing so much better and so much more to help ourselves (and yes of course I include myself in that). Our teaching styles (at secondary level at least) are still very much ‘chalk and talk’ together with ‘the sage on the stage’ when that whole approach has been lambasted by educationalists for decades if not centuries.
Nevertheless it’s great to have the opportunity to ‘converse’ with a fellow teacher in this fashion – I suspect we have a lot more in common than not, and I luck forward to changing my own opinion when needbe.
With a bit of luck it may just prompt some more ‘lurkers’ out into the open.
Awarding-winning journalist and author Mary Mulvihill has been keeping us up to date for years on all sorts of news and events relating to Science and/or Culture. She has just launched a new blog so it is now even easier to keep up with the latest developments.
This month Science@Culture has links to, among others:
A BBC Radio4 documentary on the science and history of the placebo effect, and;
A public lecture in Dublin this Wednesday on why so many in America deny Global Warming.
There are a whole lot of education blogs out there, but one of the very best has to be Joe Dale’s “Integrating ICT into the MFL classroom“. He gave a presentation at the CESI conference this year and people had to be turned away at the door.
Every subject needs to have a Joe Dale; someone to keep us up to date on best practice in relation to ICT issues, and who you know is a full-time teacher who practices what he preaches.
Here’s my contibution to the ‘Modern Language’ database:
Eddie Izzard – Learning French
‘Course you can’t show this wonderful clip unless you have Youtube.
Don’t mention the war
Is there an equivalent Science / Physics Teacher blog out there?
Patricia Donaghy has done her part; http://edubloggerdir.blogspot.com/ is a registration page for educational blogs where you can go and search by topic.
I guess over time more teachers will get the hang of this sharing lark.
The January edition of Science Spin included a supplement on choosing science as a career. I was asked to contribute my thru’penny bit as a science teacher. Most of the other contributors included their opinion of what science is, but either I wasn’t asked or, more likely, my reply was too boring to print. So here’s what I should have written:
Science is many things, but the more I find out the more I believe that Science is a tool used to maintain the inequality that exists between the First and Third world. It is an instrument used to develop the military technology which enforces this inequality, and which in turn is fed by the unequal distribution of the world’s resources.
One of its strengths lies in its refusal to acknowledge its role in this. Indeed the mere questioning of this can label the critic as an ‘outsider’ and consequently negate the message or its potential validity.
For an example of this look no further than the manner in which the role played by war has influenced so many developments in Science, and how this is conveniently ignored for the sake of a more sanitised and noble picture which is what you will find in your school science text-book.
Now why couldn’t I think of that at the time?
It’s also only fair to acknowledge that the article was both interesting and very well written by Marie-Catherine Mousseau. It described very well the wide spectrum of careers available for graduates in Science. The magazine itself is also very impressive. I genuinely hadn’t read it in years but its production is top quality and I will certainly be checking it out again. See for yourself if you get a chance. In all good bookshops, as they say.
I was talking recently about setting up a group blog for students doing Scifest 2008.
John Hegarty suggested Google Groups might be a good way to go, and also mentioned that Tom Kendall gives talks on blogging in schools and he suggests the following site as a platform to work on http://www.21classes.com/
Mags Amond however has suggested another alternative, which she mentioned on the DICTAT forum
“Also, nearer home, TeachNet / Digital Hub people are piloting a space for Irish Second Level students called Project Blogger (building with WordPress). The TY science students in 15 schools are being introduced to it over these few weeks, so Blogs being what they are there hopefully should be something to see very soon.”
All of these are involved with CESI, which is holding its conference on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th February, so maybe I’ll delay things a little and hopefully talk to them there.
Taken from the postings of physics teacher Mr Reid.
“The Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) lives deep under the sea where pressure is much higher. The pressure is so high that a swim bladder wouldn’t work, so the blobfish is basically a bag of jelly with some organs in.” Mr.Reid.org
Philippa and Georgina are in Second Year and have a wonderful idea for their Scifest competition. Philippa’s family have a number of horses and it has come to her attention that there is a large amount of heat generted in the manure heap. It may not be the cleanest job in the world but Philippa reckons she might be able to feed pipes through the manure heap and use it as a method to heat water.
They’re not so interested in whether or not this has commercial applications, merely in the science of how to get the most heat energy out.
I think it’s a wonderful idea – lots of variables to investigate- and has great potential.
We’re hoping to get quite a few students involved, and it occurred to me that this could be a really cool way to use blogs. Imagine if each group had their own blog, and could comment on each others’ projects. Serious potential for learning.
If anyone wants to advise on how best to approach this I would love to hear from you.
It would also bring them closer to how real science works. When I mentioned the possibility of blogging to the girls they were a little apprehensive of others stealing their ideas. Welcome to the world of science. Science has worked well in the past precisely because scientists were forced to publish their works in order to establish priority, yet they too had to be careful not to give away all their ideas.
One of the more well-known examples of this was the discovery of the structure of DNA by Crick and Watson. Watson wrote a wonderful book detailing his work at the time; this book – called The Double Helix – was highly controversial at the time because it turned out to be a warts-and-all approach, and many of the characters involved were not impressed with their portrayal.
I try to engage with new technology, but I know I’m no computer whizz-kid. For instance I would like assistance in some of the following. I may well figure these out myself over time, but it would be a lot more painless if there was a go-to person.
Knock off the ‘Moderate Comments’ option. I wouldn’t comment on a blog if I thought that the comment wouldn’t appear for 24 hours.
Put up a ‘Subscribe by email’ option, or with a feedburner.
Improve overall presentation
Hopefully this will be raised at the CESI conference next month.
I get really frustrated when someone tells me about an outstanding teacher and I can’t find hide nor hair of their work online. What a waste. If they are as good as others say they are, why not share that with others? They’ll tell me their kids made a great video, learned something great from an experiment or gave a great presentation but it means very little to me unless I can be part of it too. But even those who have the means and understanding aren’t sharing like they ought to. Some even offline don’t share much. Part of it is culture.
Couldn’t agree more. Peter O’Boyle is the most inspirational teacher I know (of). I know he is inspirational because his students tell me. I have never seen him in action. We are pretty close – I was honored to have him as my Best Man at my wedding. We often meet up for a few pints, and conversation covers all the usual bases. But I reckon on any given evening 75% of the time is related to our classes. To say he is passionate would be putting it mildly.
PO is going to retire sometime over the next few years, and all that knowledge and experience is going to retire with him. Unless we can somehow figure out how to record his classes. And persuade him that we should be allowed do so.