Thursday, June 21, 2007

Your face .. an an F1 car

.. at Silverstone! For Cheridee!

1. Go to
2. Pick a car (David Coulthard or Mark Webber)
3. Pick a spot
4. Pay your £10 (plus a donation if you wish)
5. Upload your photo
6. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lies, Damn lies .. and surveys

Notice on a station platform:

Passengers travelling on the Derwent Valley List train service were surveyed on 9 days between 29 September and 26 October 2007.

Now, I've always suspected that survey figures were played with to show the "right" information, but this takes the biscuit!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kitchen Fitting .vs. Architectural Design

Fitting a new kitchen is like architectural design. They are very different jobs, but like many things in life there are similarities between them.

During the day I am a software architect. I am finding that the deeper I dig into a problem, the more work there appears to be. I start by looking at the process now, then work out how to change it to something different. What I usually discover is that the change cannot be made without changing other processes, too.

In the evenings and weekends, I am refitting our kitchen. I am finding that the deeping I dig into the task, the more work there appears to be. I started by looking at the kitchen layout now, and worked out how to change it to something different. What I discovered is that the change cannot be made without changing the water pipes, the gas pipes, the electricity routing, ...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dumbing down education

Firstly, the links: An open letter to the AQA and the Department for Education (from Wellington Grey .. from a blog of very little brain

This is all very unnerving .. as a family who has just rejoined the schooled masses. I've had a number of conversations recently - arrived at from a number of different topics - all coming to the conclusion that the way schools are examined and tested these days is the cause. I once interviewed a guy who used a wonderful phrase (feel free to use it): Analysis Paralysis.

Analysis Paralysis
an informal phrase applied to when the opportunity cost of decision analysis exceeds the benefits. Analysis paralysis applies to any situation where analysis may be applied to help make a decision and may be a dysfunctional element of organizational behavior.

To my mind, schools are pretty much in analysis paralysis. So much effort is spent testing and making sure they're doing TheRightThing, that no time is left for doing TheRightThing. TheRightThing being educating the children, of course. It is a widely believed fact that children are taught to pass exams. This is not TheRightThing. It's like that old teach-a-man-to-fish saying.

The sooner the politicians who control state education realise this, the better. The recent focus on testing is seeking to solve a symptom. It will not help greatly. The current climate of distrust and fear - particularly with anything to do with children - is crippling. Until we as a society can learn to have a little trust and let people get on with their jobs, we will constantly disappoint ourselves.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Back to School II

After three years of home educating, we are now, officially, no longer. Our eldest started back at school a year ago - soon after we moved. Our younger daughter started back at school a few weeks ago. Today, our elder son started back at school and our youngest son has started a "pre-school" playgroup; he will begin school in September.

These are all their own decisions (with the exception of our youngest). It was never our intention to educate them at home forever. Their being back in school will not, we hope, dampen their enthusiasm for learning .. too much. Some dissillusion is inevitable. Above all, we pray that the children will continue to seek knowledge in their own time. They will be tired when we see them now, of course, and they will have little enthusiasm for "work". I am optimistic that some residual enjoyment for learning will not disappear. The major difference is that they know that there is an alternative - that they are not trapped within the system.

They had different reasons for deregistering from school, but they have pretty much the same reason for starting back again: to make friends. We satisfied many of their needs whilst they were learning at home. Some subjects were hard to resource, but on the whole we did well, we feel. They regularly met up with other children - in social groups far more true to real life than those available in school - but this was not really enough for them to feel that they had made friends. In particular, those meetings were in other towns, so they had no "play time" outside schooling hours. School will provide more social contact opportunity than they will need, and an environment where subject experts and resources are on-hand to help them learn.

Looking back, I'm immensely proud of our decision to home-educate, and our achievements - as a family - in making it a success.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

That London 2012 Olympics Logo

Have you seen the revised London 2012 logo? Isn't it awful?

According to the BBC it was inspired by Tiswas. 'Nuff said. I think my kids could've done better. They would not have produced anything so carefully thought-out - but, I think that's the point. A logo should be simple, clear and easily recognised. This is a hideous monstrosity. A year to produce the design? £400K? Words fail me. Should have given the job to school and/or college kids.

Go on: sign the petition!