Sunday, 28 June 2009

Underwater learning

Now, I know I go on a lot about how we know more about learning these days, which means new approaches can often be remarkably effective - as have seen in a host of projects, and I constantly worry about how often education can under ambitious be for the children in it... and of course we are seeing now so many breaking through the artificially low ceiling of criterion referencing and thumbing their noses at the foolishness of Incrementalism (just one variable, a tiny bit better.... hah!) so that in so many ways we are really now starting to see just how good our learners might be... pictures like these have become less exceptional. But it still impresses the heck out of me!. This is granddaughter Amelie, under water and completely as ease - she's been swimming underwater from 6 months and is nearly two now. Unthinkable 15 years ago, every-day-normal now. Science + learning = remarkable progress for so many.

Sorry about the photo quality - being under water blurs things a bit.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Round the Island, again

Well, once again it is the HUGE annual Round the Island Race as close on 1,800 boats race anti-clockwise around the Isle of Wight on the UK's south coast.

Here we all are at sunset the night before, all ready to be up-at-dawn for a tense start with all computers blazing! So many boats ready here gunwhale to gunwhale that you can walk right across the haven. We had a very good race, but hitting the rusting boiler of the Varvassi wreck at the Needles was a bit scary (and very loud below decks our navigator Carole assures me), although it puts us in a very exclusive club.

For those of you who don't race these things it is interesting to reflect on how little weight there is on board: a very little diesel, water, enough food, but jars through sleeping bags to cutlery are all gone. Our rig - mast, boom, sails even - is largely carbon - the "pitching" inertia at the mast tip is the square of the distance from the axis of pivot (ie the hull) so weight aloft with a big rig really does slow a boat. As my son at 10 once memorably said in a TV interview sailing has a lot of physics, meteorology, chess-like-tactics, engineering, computing and more. Plus it is flippin hard athletic work with scary bits too.

Nice though...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Boldly go

Wellington International School in Dubai has this amazing "space themed" floor with mirrors lights star trek (bzzrrrppt) doors, astronomical telescope and more.

Having just worked here with a very engaged, thoughtful, group of school students and their staff it is a reminder of how important play will always be in learning.

We had great fun too.


Cruising down the creek in Dubai on a splendid 68' motor yacht (!) it is hard not to be struck by the constant contrast between old and new, wealthy and not so. So much trade in the region is still plied by traditional sampans and junks like these and close up to them you realize what HUGE loads they are capable of shifting, as well as providing a home for a family.

About 75% of building here in Dubai is currently paused, although as you see in the background of this photo there are still lots in cranes about. Other than a slowdown in building and quite a lot of overseas workers going home for a while, the economy seems to be booming still.

Fascinating, and captivating, place.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Global Classroom

Up in Shetland for 10th year of their wonderful Global Classroom
Project. Children here from AUS NZ Japan Sweden, USA, Shetland, and
all debating the future of learning whilst immersed in Island culture
for 10 days.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sky's the limit?

Arriving at national sports and athletics centre Crystal Palace, south of London, I was reminded of climbing these rather tall floodlight towers years ago on a school-aged coaching weekend as a dare (and as a race!). Scary fun.

coincedentally the mornings papers today were full of a story of a pick-your-own fruit farm being closed by safety inspectors who wanted to see safety railings installed!!

I do wonder how long this wonderfully patient generation of children will tolerate this nonsense of being banned from everything - from YouTube to gooseberries? How can we put self reliance, confidence and a bit of scary excitement too back into learning?

Looking up again at the floodlight towers I was also reminded of how fit I was back then too. Time for a change of life style...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Unexpected treasure!

Gosh! Came across this clock locked away inside the (predictably enough) clock tower in St Mary's C of E Primary School in Shenfield. We were exploring the tower as a perfect site for a webcam - the view is amazing.

This robust 19th century clock mechanism drives the clock face (just being restored) by way of a long cable and has not-quite-as-long pendulums and a wind twice a week escapement. Interestingly almost noone I spoke to at the school had ever seen it (it is the "other side" of the caretaker Steve's room) but cue long debate about what an asset for the school and could / should the children have a chance to climb the Tower, supervised and harnessed of course.

Maybe the webcam should justwatch the mechanism ticking...