According to The Australian, Stephen Wilson is resigning as CIO of the New South Wales Department of Education and Training (DET). I wish him well in whatever direction he is headed.
I first met Stephen at Cisco’s Public Sector Summit in Stockholm in December 2005 and got on with him very well indeed, helped I think by his own Scottish roots, but also, simply, because he proved to be a very nice and affable man indeed. We’ve met a couple of times since then when I’ve been out in Australia.
According to The Australian, Stephen is returning to the private sector from whence he came before joining the DET. The private sector’s gain is most definitely the public sector’s loss in Australia.
.…it was the same in the 1960s. There were a few voices in Washington who asked awkward questions, but in the main there was no public debate about the wisdom — never mind the ethics or the feasability — of the war in Southeast Asia. And so the killing continued until — eventually — the US bowed to the inevitable and scuttled.
John Naughton on the striking similarities between the USA’s prosecution of the war in Afghanistan and their conduct during the war in Vietnam in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
I heard an American colleague, a former military man, say (and I paraphrase):
Our problem is we do not have a foreign policy; all we have is a powerful military.…
In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark’d, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surpriz’d to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, ’tis necessary that it shou’d be observ’d and explain’d; and at the same time that a reason should be given; for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.
Essentially, he was saying that there is no necessary connection between an ‘is’ and an ‘ought’, between the descriptive and the prescriptive.
There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.
It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known: the pale blue dot.
Having established the fundamental insignificance of our species in the cosmos — difficult to disagree with — he reaches the entirely humane and compassionate verdict that we therefore have a deep responsibility to preserve and cherish our little pale blue dot. I agree with him. But others could take the same demonstration of our conceits and decide that it really doesn’t matter, therefore, what we do with the planet. I see at least as many examples of the latter every day of the week as I do the former.
An interesting example of Hume’s point, I think.
That aside, Sagan’s video is well worth spending six minutes with — but it is marred by its dependence on a series of images that have been pulled from the monstrous distorting lens of Hollywood: fun for movie fans, but a superficial note in a serious message. A sequence of images of real people rather than performing mannequins would have been more convincing.
Free schools are a side-show. If they want to persuade us otherwise, the message for the Department for Education is: must try harder.
So says BenC on his blog, pencilandpapertest. He offers an excellent critique of the Department of Education’s very own ‘dodgy dossier’ that pushes the Tory notion of free schools. Definitely worth a read.
Once you have a blog you notice more, you start to think “I might write about this on my blog” What do I want to say” “What will people’s reaction be”. Over time you get better at noticing and the better at noticing you get the more noticed you get! You end up in the wonderful collective web of “Oooh that’s interesting” which I now wouldn’t ever want to be without.
But then, Euan’s been doing it (blogging!) a lot longer than I have, so it’s only fair that he said it first.
Go to the YouTube EDU site and you’ll find, as I write, featured content from twenty universities strung across the top of the page, showing five at a time. The melded image above shows all twenty.
Postscript- I know there are many other universities from across the world on YouTube, so my question is, who is deciding that, out of twenty featured, seventeen of them should be from the USA? I note there is an Apply to YouTube EDU page, so is it simply that many universities with content on YouTube haven’t applied to be featured here? If not, why not?
.…to ask publicly whether the school should be a willing, even eager, partner in deepening that dependency on gadgets with screens.
Has anyone ever seriously questioned our ‘dependency on the printed page’? I doubt it, because, of course, it is what is on the printed page that is important.
I think the same should apply to those ‘gadgets with screens’. Otherwise we make a fetish of the medium rather than the content and activities offered by that medium. For many of those who would agree with Cuban, the notion of ‘addiction to the book’ would be a nonsense, and rightly so. They simply need to apply the same logic to the dreaded ‘screen’ if they are not to be accused of double standards.
Cuban falls into this trap, one he has been happy to fall into for many years — hence the somewhat loaded and one-sided title of the blog post quoted: High Tech Gadgets: Addiction, Dependency, or Hype?. And isn’t that ‘…publicly…’ in the quote above interesting? Let’s not just scare the pants off people with talk of addiction and dependency; let’s also pretend that there’s a conspiracy of silence around the subject too.
And so we get the inevitable plunge into despair for that strange, 2-yearly, mutually-masturbatory coalition of English TV, radio, tabloids and football fans.
Whether it’s the European Championships or the World Cup, we see the same repeated cycle of over-stimulated expectations followed by a slump into despondency when the realization of the true worth of their team dawns. Love and hate are never far apart for this coalition of the absurd.
A team that was never much good to begin with, but which was endowed with hope far beyond that which objectivity and common sense could ever allow, falls from grace and slides from adulation to abomination, and all in the short 90 minutes or so between the first and the last blow of a referee’s whistle.
The biggest culprit in all of this, of course, is the football media parade, from Talk Radio to the back pages of the tabloids to the brainless inanities of BBC Radio 5 Live (with the honourable exception of Danny Baker, who suffers the highs and lows that every true football fan suffers, but who always brings humour and intelligence to the aftermath).
In Scotland, we laugh at the childish witterings of Chick Young — even his fellow pundits find him amusing. Alan Green, on the other hand, 5 Live’s very own Chick Young, is taken seriously by pundits and fans alike. Green, despite watching and commentating on football for half a century, has never learned that the categorical statement simply doesn’t work in football (as, for instance, in November 1999, when he told 5 Live Newsdrive’s Peter Allen that it was simply not possible for Scotland to beat England at Wembley that evening — Scotland won 1–0).
Elsewhere on the BBC, we hear the casual xenophobia that dismisses the footballing (and, for that matter, refereeing) pedigree of any team from a country that the witless mavens they employ find difficult to locate on a map of the world. England invented football, don’t you know.
So, here we are again. England need to beat Slovenia. Should they qualify, all of the hand-wringing and all of the neck-wringing will be forgotten…until the next bit of fumbled goalkeeping or the next missed penalty…and then it all begins again.
There’s more than one spectator sport happening at the World Cup in South Africa.
The panel session at WSMCY on social media, creativity and learning seemed to go well yesterday. The venue, in Karlstad University, was The Egg, a small, suspended auditorium that housed an audience of perhaps sixty or seventy at a stretch. It was set up for the event as a temporary television studio since the session was filmed with a view to creating a single long edit of the whole session and a number of short edits which, I am told, will appear on YouTube at some point.
I enjoyed immensely the discussion with the other panel members, and while as a group we were largely in agreement on the major issues facing education today, there was enough nuance in philosophy and approach between us, I believe, to make it (I hope) interesting. I’m grateful to WISE for sponsoring the session, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue the discussion at the WISE event in Doha, Qatar, in December.