18 November 2012

I am a very lucky guy.

I have a gorgeous and wonderful wife, three extraordinarily handsome and intelligent sons, the most gorgeous and intellectually advanced granddaughter known to Christendom . . . and a dog.

I guess I’ve always known how fortunate I am but occasionally something happens which serves no apparent purpose other than to illustrate, once again, that the Gods of Good Fortune and Luck are smiling benignly. And this week I had just such an occasion.

In the early part of each school term I tend to visit the schools I work with and we plan out our activities for the term. We set some dates for meetings or training and then, as the term progresses, I turn up and do my thing and most everyone seems moderately happy.

Those of you who know me tolerably well will appreciate that I have a pretty dreadful memory which seems to get worse with each passing moment. I used to joke that my appalling memory was one of the main reasons why I became interested in computers – the technology would serve as a supplement to my dodgy memory and so it has proved many, many times in the past.

So, when I am meeting with schools and we set dates I enter them immediately into my electronic calendar which is synchronised across all my computers and other devices. Little chance of forgetting meetings and appointments when you receive twelve reminders each day.

So, you are wondering, how does that make me lucky? Consider the following sequence of events and judge for yourself.

I was in a school delivering some training on the use of their Learning Platform a few weeks ago. At the conclusion of the training, the ICT co-ordinator came to me and asked if I could run another session for the nursery staff who were unable to attend due to a conflict with another training session. So, I wandered down the corridor to find the nursery staff and arrange a date for a session for them.

A few days later I had an e-mail from the teacher in charge of the nursery asking if we could re-arrange the date as something else had come up. No problem, I replied and offered her a few dates from which she chose this past Wednesday. As soon as I had the confirmation e-mail I entered the details in my electronic diary which faithfully and happily reminded me of the upcoming commitment. Off I went and delivered the training.

Still, where’s the luck?

During the session with the nursery staff on Wednesday one of the teachers commented that I must really enjoy their school as I was spending so much time there. I replied that I did enjoy working with them but that I wasn’t spending an extraordinary amount of time there. The teacher then said that I was there doing their session and that I was coming back the next day to deliver two sessions to parents on e-Safety.

Here’s where the luck comes in. My electronic diary had the date of the two parents’ sessions I was doing on the following Thursday, i.e., 22 November but the school had advertised the session as taking place on Thursday 15 November and they were expecting a room full.

Clearly, either I had made a mistake in entering the date in my diary or the school had changed the date and had neglected to inform me. It seems odd to me that I could have entered the commitment on the wrong date given that I was entering it as we were meeting but it is certainly possible and wouldn’t be the first time I’ve messed up.

In spite of my error, the Gods of Good Fortune were smiling.

If I had delivered the training for the nursery staff on the original date we had planned, the teacher very probably would not have commented on how frequently I was visiting the school to help out and I would not have turned up on the right date to deliver the session for the parents. If the re-scheduled date for the training had not been the day before the proposed parents’ session, it’s likely, again, that no comment would have been made. Indeed, the re-scheduled date could have been fixed for after the parents’ session. Sometimes things just come together.

I am a very lucky guy.

Michael Gove is an idiotAnother week, another idiotic statement from Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. This week he announced that learning by rote was the key to success. So memorising a bunch of information without any understanding of its meaning or context is the key to success? Talk about taking education back to a Victorian era of greatness. (If you can’t quite read the cartoon, click for a slightly larger version).

Don’t get me wrong – I actually do believe that there is a place for “memorising” some things and one’s times tables might be a good example. It has certainly served me well that I can recite my tables and do simple sums and other mathematical functions in my head. And I certainly learned my tables by rote at Holly Avenue primary school. But I also, at some stage, learned to apply that knowledge which is what Gove just doesn’t get. It’s a meaningless party trick to be able to recite the names of all the kings and queens of England in order or to name all fifty state capitals (Mr Crocker, 5th grade). It’s a sign of knowledge and understanding to be able to explain how the interactions of people create the conditions for change, regardless of who was king or queen at the time.

You can tell it’s almost Christmas when the Regent Street Christmas decorations go up. I ran across a short little clip on the BBC site which shows the designing of this years’ decorations. It’s still too early, mind.

We had an excellent visit yesterday from our favourite granddaughter and her parents. Nick and Lucy brought the fixings for a grand lunch and prepared it while Grandma and I entertained Annabelle. Or, to be more accurate, while Annabelle entertained us. As I said last time, she is now walking with great confidence and spends much of her time running from one room to another at approximately 90 miles per hour. I couldn’t find the “off” switch anywhere!

And finally, I ran across the following on the Time website. Sorry, but it made me laugh.

Money can't buy anything

Love to you all,

Greg