woolymonkey: (keyboard)
I feel very strongly about this as it would mean no more funding for exactly the support Spidermonkey is looking forward to getting next year. (In fact, he's OK as the changes would come in for the year after him.) Please sign if you agree.


Apr. 19th, 2013 11:42 am
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
This is so spot on that I went to listen again and transcribe it.
One of the problems is that we have poured so much time into trying to make sure that children look as though they're achieving more that we've not been prepared to say how do children actually learn?  And one of the answers in that you have to enthuse them for their learning.  You can't make them think, as they so often do in school, "What I'm learning here isn't interesting.  I mustn't read around the subject in case I put the wrong answer in the exam.  The only thing that matters is getting the right test result."
Jenny Russell on Today this morning (2hrs 43 minutes in, if you want to hear the whole thing.)

This is exactly what we've seen with the monkey boys education at secondary school.  Sadly we're still seeing it with Science A Levels at sixth form.  It's not such a problem for squirrel because he has the kind of brain that is good at understanding and at exam technique.  Mugging up the definitions comes easily and doesn't waste much of his time.  For spider, who's dyslexic, it's a huge energy drain that takes time away from real learning, and puts him off further study.

I'm not saying all bright kids are harmed by this.  Squirrel can laugh at the notion that using the word, lexis, in an English answer get you bonus marks , write a thoughtful essay with the word dropped in for fun, and have time over to take a photo of his marked script with a red tick by lexis before the teacher has even seen the rest of the sentence.  The extra challenge of playing the system to score marks only adds to his enjoyment, because it's easy for him.

But it seems pretty clear we are doing education doubly wrong by teaching to tests that test the wrong things.

Science A level rant behind the cut )
woolymonkey: (wtf?)
I'll mostly be spending today quietly getting on with marking and a tutorial this evening.  But in between those things, I shall think about the things a more sensibly run country might do with £10 million and I'll do what I can to repair her legacy in my own small way:

I'll wear my one and only red garment and follow [livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de in donating to a suitably unthatcherite good cause.

And I'll be feeling depressed about how Thatcher not only won the argument about British politics but is still defining the terms in which questions that get asked.  Maybe just maybe we could start learning to ask different questions now...
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
I see no reason to celebrate the death of a senile old lady.

I would love to celebrate the death of Thatcherism, as opposed to Thatcher, but we've had a decade of a Labour party too scared to challenge the notion that profit is the only value worth measuring, and now Cameron (and Wossname) taxing bedrooms, privatising the NHS and destroying equal oppportunity in education while giving tax cuts to the rich.

Yes, I've been listening to Elvis Costello

but I don't care if this or Ding Dong or bloody Justin Bieber gets to number 1.  What would that change if we don't have politicians willing to stand up and say that some things are worth paying tax to fund, and voters willing to elect them?

The witch cast a long shadow and we are still living in it.
(Though I suppose it's bleakly cheering that at least Iain Banks gets to outlive her.)
woolymonkey: (Default)
Thought I'd post this because the monkey family has been close to the sharp end and reports in the media don't seem to make things clear.  I have no personal axe to grind because Spider managed to pass even with all the problems this year, so he's alright Jack and off to do Science A-Levels.  (In fact, he did great.  Yay! Spider! \o/\o/\o/)  But what happened to others is still unfair. 

Behind a cut to spare those who don't have to care about British school exams... )

woolymonkey: (wtf?)
Have you read the customer reviews for policeman wenlock on amazon?  Just brilliant.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] darth_hamster for pointing me at them.

Look at the tags too.


Jun. 12th, 2012 01:52 pm
woolymonkey: (wtf?)
One downside of the Great Monkey Migration to Girton is that our MP is now Andrew Lansley. (At least it means we should have an NHS candidate to vote for come election time.)

Now I've learned that our (Conservative) District Councillor is a Mr. Bygott.

Why yes, I did google him. It's EMA marking week, after all.

Seems I'm not the first to snigger at his name.  John Henley in the Guardian was there 5 years earlier:

In line with our well-documented policy of not making fun of people's names, we are sadly unable to report that Stamford town council boasts a Cllr Dickon G Sinker; the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, New York, employs a Mr Swastik Kar; or that on South Cambridgeshire district council there sit two Conservative councillors named Tom Bygott and Tony Orgee. Sorry about that.


Mar. 16th, 2012 11:10 am
woolymonkey: (Default)
If you haven't signed the petition to save the NHS, you can click here and do it now. Takes about 3 seconds.
woolymonkey: (Default)
You can sign up here for a rally in London or a virtual rally online, both on March 7th.

I've gone for the virtual one though I might make it to London in the unlikely event that work, house and school stuff is all quietish at that point.
woolymonkey: (Default)
Petition against Open University cuts

Please go sign.

If you've already signed the old one, this is a new one.  The idea is to get a debate in parliament, which needs 100,000 signatures... 
woolymonkey: (Default)
If, like me, you have no confidence in the government's policy on further, higher and adult education, there's a petition you can sign.

(I have no confidence in their policy on primary or secondary education either, but if there's a petition for that I haven't seen it.)

You have to say what institution you belong to, but I see nothing to say you have to be a teacher or academic. If you have kids at school, or went to school yourself, then you have a link with an educational institution. It's surely not just education pros who are affected by education policy.
woolymonkey: (Default)
Right. I'm off to the polling station with strict instructions from Leicester and Humbug.

woolymonkey: (keyboard)
Have you been in touch with your MP lately?

If you'd like to send her/him a Christmas card, or maybe, just for instance, beg him/her to vote against cuts to education funding, here's a handy link:

Cambridge people, I know Julian Huppert has promised to vote against, but it couldn't hurt to write and thank him for that, could it?

I'm not just worried about how the teen monkeys will be able to afford university (though I am).  I'm also concerned that nobody in their right minds will run up 30K of debt so they can go into teaching and other relatively low-paid graduate professions.  Even the Open University will have to hike up its fees.  Yes, it'll be easier to borrow money to pay those fees, but we will lose all the people who are studying for its own sake, or just dipping a cautious toe into education after previous bad experiences, wondering if, perhaps, maybe, possibly, they can do it after all.  I don't want to see our universities lose their diversity to become training centres for people who've decided to invest in a career in banking.
woolymonkey: (Default)
If you want, please sign this petition to save the Education Maintenance Allowance (living allowance for 16-18 year old students low-income families). The teen monkeys won't qualify, so no vested interest here, just that I think it's a Good Thing.
woolymonkey: (guitar chimp)
So far, no punishments for those who missed school to go on protests.

Unless you count an outburst from the Deputy Head about how the whole reputation of the school has been 'ruined' (delivered during a music cover lesson to a Year 8 class who mostly didn't go on the protest). And the Head appears to be letting off steam by yelling longer and louder than usual at anyone not wearing proper uniform.

Possibly we've got off lightly because Spider was present at the start and end of the school day and for several lessons, but I haven't heard of anyone else getting in trouble either.
woolymonkey: (guitar chimp)
Both teen monkeys went to school yesterday apparently unaware of any planned fees protests. Then they heard about a demo out on Parker's Piece and in town with 6th form and university students. They were told that anyone who went would get a 50 minute detention the next day.

Squirrel, along with most of the Year 8s, decided to stay in school. This is good and we are proud of him.

Spider, along with most of the Year 10s, decided to go on the protest. This is good and we are proud of him.

Spider's day behind the cut... )

Edited to add Cambridge News because it has footage of Parkside/Coleridge kids marching and a quote from the Head.
woolymonkey: (spidermonkey)
I'm very proud that all 4 monkeys turned out for the Fair Votes demo yesterday, wore purple, shouted their monkey throats sore, waved a big purple flag somebody gave us, and were suitably inspired by the Bar Chart. Even spidermonkey, who was still feeling well below par.

A pity that the only reports of the event are on a somewhat dodgy Iranian website.

woolymonkey: (spidermonkey)
Looks like at least one monkey (me) will be at the demo tomorrow. Maybe I'll see some of you there.
woolymonkey: (Default)
I'd been planning to go on the electoral reform demo in London this Saturday, but...

Now that the Lib-Con coalition is real and setting out policies, it looks to me as though they're already promising all we could reasonably expect re voting reform. So if they're already saying the right things, and it's too early to judge them on what they do, then what would the demo be meant to achieve?

Does this mean I can stay at home after all? Or am I just finding excuses because I could really, really use a quiet weekend?

Thoughts please!
But just on pointfulness or otherwise of the demo, please, and whether you're going. I don't have the time or energy to get into what we all think about the not-so-shiny new government today.)

Added at 11.00
The school phoned at 10.15.  Spider has come down with a stomach lurgy.  He's at home now, looking pale and feeling terrible.  Quiet weekend it is, then.  But I'd still like to hear what others are thinking/doing.
woolymonkey: (Default)
In case there are still people who are fed up with our electoral system and haven't found this yet.

Take Back Parliament | Sign the Petition

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