Archive for May, 2009

It Was 20 Years Ago Today

May 26, 2009 in waffle | Comments (3)

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Today is the 20th anniversary of a moment that will live long in the memory of any Arsenal fan. The night we went to Anfield needing to win by 2 goals, which we did with almost the last kick of the game. Michael Thomas will always be an Arsenal legend for that goal.

This also produced one of my favourite scenes from any footballing movie – the final minutes of Fever Pitch which sums up wonderfully the emotions of a football fan :)


Twittering Teacher Trouble

May 23, 2009 in Thoughts and Rants | Comments (0)

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I was half way through a day delivering a course on how to use Web 2.0 in the classroom when I saw a headline on the BBC news website that stopped me in my tracks for a second: Probe into Teacher Twitter Posts. I was gobsmacked when I read it.

Now I will agree that a teacher does need to realise that their twitter feed can be read by more than just their close group of friends (unless you protect your updates I guess) and so as such it’s not really professional to complain about students in a way that they could be identified.

I am being followed by a few of my PGCE students. I may have tweeted in the past that I am trying to muster the energy to mark their stack of assignments, but I wouldn’t be tweeting about how many failed etc (if any) since that’s unfair on the students to hear that way.

Now the article does say

“The teacher in question is not facing disciplinary action, although the council is looking into the matter.”

Which makes you wonder what the story really is here. And how it ended up on the BBC site? And I’m concerned that the BBC can see fit to just take a teachers tweets and use them out of context

It does seem to me that there’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter recently. A few months back there was a story about a magistrate who resigned after complaints that he was twittering about cases. Again the real story was that the council completely misunderstood how Twitter was being used. In fact it was being used to make the workings of the court more transparent, and no private info was being revealed.

So what do you think about this? If a teacher is twittering during a class then maybe there is an argument that they are not fully focussed on their teaching. How would the teacher react if students were twittering during the lesson? But to blast a teacher for using Twitter at all?

One sentence from the BBC article that amazed me was this one:

Argyll and Bute Council policy states that teachers may access professional blogs which have educational value but are not allowed to have their own blog.

Really?? They are not allowed to have a blog?

As one of my Twitter followers Kate pointed out – “who is writing these professional blogs that Bute teachers are allowed to read? Surely not other teacher then?” And that’s a good point.

Is this true? Can anyone who works for Argyll and Bute let me know if this is actual policy?

How can Argyll and Bute ban teachers from having their own blogs? That’s totally unreasonable and goes against much of the guidance being offered on the Learning and Teaching Scotland’s own advice site, who says things like:

Edublogs

A key use for blogs in the education world is the keeping of a Teacher Learning Log, or an Edublog. This is not about filing away CPD courses you’ve done, but reflecting on the day-to-day work done in the classroom and how it might be done differently, better or in collaboration with someone else ‘out there’. Normally, you’ll quickly make contacts with like-minded souls – but only if you have already contributed something to the bigger picture by writing about your experiences regularly.

Sharing ideas with others

The edublogging world is a compassionate place where people are always willing to help out with advice, tips or just reassurance that you’re doing it correctly. They will even share resources and good links. But it works both ways – share and share alike and you will feel your teaching changing as real-time reflection and deep thinking take place away from the hubbub of school.

So Learning and Teaching Scotland is encouraging teachers to set up blogs, but individual councils are then banning teachers from doing this? There’s some mixed messages going on here.

I seem to get the impression that they don’t really understand blogging and twittering, and so they’d rather just block and ban it.

I have seen some excellent teacher blogs. Many of them share good practise and examples of the excellent work their students are doing. Many of them share lots of good ideas with the education community.

I will agree that teacher blogs should not really be making negative comments about students, that is unprofessional. And if the teacher is doing that, then a quiet word in their ear from their line manager may be appropriate to stop them making comments about the school or pupils.

It does lead to some interesting discussions – and there was a lot of shock about the story on the twittering teaching community yesterday afternoon when it came out.

What is becoming more evident is for school management to get themselves up to speed on these new ways of communication and to understand them, before they start issuing disciplinary action. I’m hoping that the full story comes out soon and I’m also hoping that there’s been some serious misreporting here and that maybe this has been sensationalised a little. Let’s see what happens…


The Mail and MMR

May 11, 2009 in bad science | Comments (5)

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There are some things that make me bloody angry.. and the MMR Hoax is one of them.

The MMR/Autism research by Wakefield was seriously flawed in the first place and leapt upon by a horde of journalists and celebrity columnists without a science qualification between them.

No actual studies have been properly published that show a link between MMR and Autism, and the evidence against a link is overwhelming. Every media outlet that discusses this always ends up trying to “balance the debate” by allowing anti-vaccine nutjobs to have their say and continue to spread this absolute rubbish. It’s all trial by anecdote with some very tenuous links. When we discuss gravity we don’t have to get someone on to balance the debate (or “teach the controversy”) ??

And the biggest bastard in all this is the Daily Mail… So of course, one of the things we really need to do is to get our children to start thinking about how science is manipulated by the media and by parties with a cash investment in peddling alternative therapies etc. It’s good common sense to doubt what these shitrags are telling us.

So this story in the Daily Mail yesterday made my blood boil when I read it (although to be honest every story in the Daily Mail does) – for the sheer arrogant cheek of it.

So – to try and show children that the whole MMR thing was complete bollocks and that people like Wakefield and the Daily Mail were bastards of the highest order – is somehow Brainwashing them?

To have people from JABS talking about insidious ways of shaping peoples opinions? Words fail me.

I think what the Mail is really concerned about is that we’re trying to teach people to be critical of the crap they publish in the papers and pass off as medical news.

And the Anti-vaccine movement is moving ahead at a scary rate in the US with cranks like Jenny McCarthy being signed up by Oprah. These diseases are going to come back, and people are going to die, and the blame for that falls squarely on these celebrity rent-a-quotes and the arts students that work in the media who don’t have a clue about what they are doing.

Here’s some extra reading for you:

Daily Mail Exposes Secret Government Brainwashing Plot!

Mail & MMR: who’s doing the brainwashing?Why Does the Vaccine/Autism Controversy Live On?

Oprah drinks the antivax Kool Aid

Why is Oprah Winfrey promoting vaccine skeptic Jenny McCarthy?