Good news, everyone!

11 January 2012

At long last there's been some good news for education in the UK - ICT is going away.

I was fortunate to avoid most of this boredom-inducing nightmare of a subject. However from what I've read, heard, and observed it is comparable with listening to the radio commentary at the national paint drying observance.

As I've said for a long time, repeatedly and at length (loudly too) - teaching people applications is a waste of resources. Learning to use an application by rote would be fine if the world was static, but it isn't - particularly in the field of technology.

Say you learned to use MS Office in the early 2000s. You're now ready to work in an office and can do mail merge stuff, that kind of thing?

Yeah, the user interface got a huge overhaul in 2007. Then there's the shift towards other technologies as well, of course.

Instead of teaching principals, such as how to best use a WYSIWYG environment and developing some sensible intuition in students we've ended up with a curriculum that hinders rather than helps.

Right, that's the recap over; time for some good news!

Computer science is going to be taught instead. I tried to learn to program and recall having a tiny bit of education when I was under 10. It was interesting but a bit beyond me at the time. However that's just me and as we all know, I'm a bit odd.

Putting resources towards giving students a solid grounding in computing as well as programming could well lead to great things within a decade.

If our 14/15 year olds are taught a bit of programming now in five years they could well be working on some seriously interesting stuff. Even if lots of students don't grasp all the concepts, by the numbers things are likely to get better.

Furthermore it'll be interesting to see what happens to the UK's culture. Programming is currently basically magic to most people, same with computer hardware. What will happen to the public's perception of traditionally geeky subjects?

Time will tell, I'm sure.


Sports and the Olympics

03 January 2012

Today's You and Yours discusses sports in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics and I found some interesting points were raised. Time to give my opinion on a matter I rarely discuss.

I'm not much of a sportsman. I went to a sporty school and did a fair bit of exercise but I never really understood sport and most certainly had very little admiration for professional athletes.

The latter is still true - I do not consider them to be of any interest. Good for them, they've made a career out of something they (hopefully) love. That does not mean I consider their opinions to be of inherent merit unless they're talking specifically about their area of expertise.

However, since leaving school I've done very little sport. Sometimes I've done a fair bit of exercise, usually through lugging large amounts of video equipment across the city, but not really much with intent.

The problem for me has been several things:

1. Interest
2. Time
3. Expense
4. Availability of facilities
5. Personal issues

So, first off...

Interest
It's taken a long time but in the last year or so I've started wanting to do some sport again. Between 2005 and 2010 or so I've had no interest in getting involved in such things.

Time
 It's not that I don't have space in my schedule, it's more that mentally trying to fit in the amount of sport one needs to do to gain much benefit is, well, tricky. I do not like having fixed commitments in my routine, preferring guidelines.

Expense
With this recession money is tight. I've got enough to live relatively comfortably but it seems facilities are excessively costly. Perhaps the prices are reasonable if you're earning £40K a year but some of us most certainly are not!

Availability of Facilities
I do not enjoy football (or at least most football players that I'd have to spend time with), rugby is not my thing. I like Squash, volleyball, climbing, snowboarding, and a couple of other things probably.
I just looked up my nearest squash court and it's a fair distance and requires membership. There's a hotel with a couple of squash courts but other than that, there's nothing in central Edinburgh. Fantastic.
Snowboarding facilities exist outside of town but then expense rears its ugly head once again. Frustrating.

Personal Issues
This one is a biggy for lots of people. I'm not concerned with being bad at the game or activity, that's actually not much of a worry. I may be bad, I may not be, but I don't derive my self-esteem from that anyway so what does it matter?

However sport-based environments intimidate me. I find gyms unpleasant as I feel out of place. Not as in "look at the fatty, lol" but as in I don't know how to relate to them; they're an alien place for me that I find it difficult to get a handhold on from which to learn.

I suppose it's an element of some of my issues. In some ways I do not deal with the world in a conventional way. It's something I'm learning to deal with, of course, but it's a learning process.

Conclusion
In closing I just want to say that the Olympics are not inspiring in the least bit and never have been. I find them less entertaining than browsing paint swatches at B&Q. The reason I'm becoming more interested in sport is due to the transition from student to graduate. I run a business from home and do not wish to become horrifically out of shape due to a primarily sedentary lifestyle. It may be a while before I can get a podcast off the ground again and in the meantime I'd prefer to get a bit of definition and to earn the odd kebab!