Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gray Matter

Was cycling back from school when I met Gray Matter. Here's the story. It was drizzling still after that storm we had this afternoon. I decided to cycle anyway so after about half an hour I was on the Yio Chu Kang pavement (cos I dont want to get knocked down by the lorries) and I saw what I thought to be another dead kitten on the pavement. But wait a minute, cats don't sit down when they die, they lie on their side or something.

I stopped and saw that it was drenched and hardly moved. I pinched its scruff and held it up and then heard her mewing. Okay, its a good thing that I had a basket on my bicycle.. not cool but lucky for the kitten. And wait a minute, its going to freeze when I cycle and the wind goes through the net of the basket... but luckily I had my work shirt in my bag (a 7 year old blue Giordano shirt). So i wrapped it up and set it comfortably in the basket.

Well, to cut the long story short, we bathed it with warm water, dried it till its fur fluffed up and fed it warm milk and cat food. Josh is playing with it now and it looks in good shape.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Its not fun to be jet-lagged

Its not as bad as the first time I went to UK for a Plant Systematics Course in Reading University way back in 1999, But I still feel it.... jet-lag.  Its a strange feeling to be awake when everyone else is fast asleep and I got to get up so early each day.  But I guess the experience of the conference more than makes up for it.

Preparing some revision lectures in Evolution.  It is the funnest topic ever but teaching it can be difficult cos it ain't like molecular biology where everything tends to be more cut and dry.  Which is why I like Evolution again.  Cut and dry is fine but Evolution and chance and the endless possibilities of natural selection just does it for me.  Its a wondrous feeling to study it and find a weird creature like the aye aye.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Unlikely meetings

On one of the afternoons off from the hectic schedule of the conference, we got a chance to tour Coventry and I decided to  pay a visit to Shakespeare's birthplace.

One of the cute gifts at that place is an eraser that had the sentence "Out, damned spot" from

Macbeth.  The real big surprise for me was when one of my colleagues told me that Tagore was in the garden.  Here he is in the beautifully tended garden.

The bust of the Great Sentinel, Rabindranath Tagore in the garden of Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon, UK.

Well, that wasn't all.  When we traveled to London for a few days, we happened to stay near this little park in a square.  Nestled in the middle of  Tavistock Square is a Gandhi statue.

Wow...  2 great people that have been inspiring to read about and of all places to meet them...  I was quite happy about that.  If you look at the lifelike stature; it is lifelike because of the posture and it seems as though the great humble man was there in the square itself, sitting and meditating.   It is so serene just looking at that slightly bent posture in meditation, probably thinking about stuff way beyond what a human mind can focus on.  The artist that sculpted the statue must have captured the man's peaceful nature.

Ironically, not long ago, the top of a bus blew off near the street from this park.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Warwick Conference Notes

Useful resources for teachers
I - Action Research (practical and personalised)
This is Prof Whitehead's website.  Its a real useful and rich resource for practitioners (namely school teachers)

I attended a workshop on e-learning tools and thought it would be the usual online tests, blogs, forum etc.  But turns out that the design the guys at londonGT.org used made good sense.  Their main approach is to frame a pedagogical learning method/thinking skill with e-learning tools so that at the heart of the excercise is the pedagogy and e-learning is not about using the computer but about learning skills. Thank God for common sense.  I have been to several e-learning courses but somehow this made sense and I took to it readily.

III - Over Excitabilities
One of the buzzwords that I came across frequently in the sessions over the 5 days.  Don't know what to make of it as yet but will have to read more... if I have energy and time.  But as always, Philosphy or Psychology of Teaching and learning is always interesting as you also begin to realise more about yourself anyway.  So self-awareness (-interest?) is somehow satisfied, which is admittedly a good kind of feeling.

Check out Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration for more info on OEs.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Conference at Warwick

There was a pre-conference workshop that was really engaging.  It was facilitated by a Professor from the University of Bath and his speciality was on Philosphy for Children.  He gave and account of this learning strategy TASC which is currently quite widely used as a learning tool in UK for students to grasp certain concepts.  Apparently, there was a group of 6 year olds who when shown this concept, decided that there were some changes that had to be made as the learning cycle didn't suit them.  So they modified the framework and made it more 3 dimensional to suit their needs.

I thought that showed quite a high level of self-awareness by the children.  It was a highly engaging workshop and the agenda was based on the 15 min inquiry session from the 30 or so participants.

Another interesting thing to note was that Socratic questioning may be a fine tool but very  often it the teacher using the tool tends to have know the answers, so that the questions may be loaded.  Interesting insights into teaching philosophy.