Black Mirror

Many of you will be watching the new series of “Black Mirror” on Netflix; for those of you that aren’t, the series consists of one-off episodes presenting a dystopian vision of the near-future, focussing in particular on technology and its impact on society. One particularly striking episode featured an anxious mother’s overprotective measures to monitor her daughter’s life via a brain implant which relays her “visual feed” to her mother’s tablet as well as measuring the daughter’s stress levels, drug intake and so on. Inevitably, things end badly when mum sees rather too much of what her daughter gets up … Continue reading Black Mirror

The distant unknown

I was fascinated by reports over Christmas featuring NASA’s New Horizons probe. In case you missed it, this is a spaceprobe which was launched back in 2006, and  has been travelling to the outer parts of the solar system at 32,000mph for the last thirteen years, collecting various bits of information along the way. It was last in the news when it visited Pluto three and a half years ago, sending pictures of snowfalls and ice mountains on the dwarf planet’s surface and providing more information about Pluto than had ever been available before.   This time New Horizons was … Continue reading The distant unknown

Another year over..

Happy New Year! Traditionally at this time of year we both look back on the last twelve months and reflect on our achievements as well as looking forward to the opportunities and challenges the new year brings. This is no less true in the world of education; a world where at once it seems everything is changing yet, somehow, much remains the same.   So is it with a sense of optimism we can look forward to 2019? Well, partly. Much of the turbulence of educational reform has abated now. New courses at both GCSE and A Level are now … Continue reading Another year over..

The Two Cultures

The world in 1995 was a very different place. John Major was still Prime Minister and Bill Clinton the US President. It was Blur vs Oasis in the charts and the Spice Girls were yet to release their first single. The internet was in its infancy, used mainly only by universities, and mobile phones were luxuries possessed only by bankers and estate agents. It was also the year that I started teaching Physics.   In those days Physics was something of a subject in crisis. Numbers studying it and other sciences at A Level were on the decline and, in … Continue reading The Two Cultures

Perfectionism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Are you a perfectionist? This seems something of a loaded question; to answer no could be perceived as an admission that you can settle for second best, or that somehow high standards don’t matter to you. In some quarters, such as high performance sport or design, perfectionism is seen as a desirable quality associated with an ambition to be ever better at your chosen discipline.   In reality, perfectionism is a much more pernicious and troubling quality to have. Rather than reflecting a desire for high standards, perfectionism manifests itself in feelings that nothing is ever good enough and a … Continue reading Perfectionism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

No more boys and girls

There was a fascinating programme on BBC2 over the summer entitled “No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free.” Despite the tabloid-courting headline, the idea behind the programme was a good one, as it set out to explore how much gender differences were ingrained into children from the moment they were born and how much were they a result of how they are brought up. One experiment conducted was very interesting if not hugely scientific. The programme makers took two very small children, a boy and a girl, though at a sufficiently young age that it was … Continue reading No more boys and girls

What’s the point of being good at games?

  Leicester City Football Club winning the Premier League. Usain Bolt winning his third Olympic gold medal in the 100m. Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. England winning the rugby World Cup in 2003. Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon. England winning the football World Cup in 1966.   Depending on your age and inclination, I am sure you can remember where you were, and how you watched, when one or more of these sporting events happened. Or, closer to home, there are other sporting events which are memorable, such as Jonathan Edwards’ Olympic gold medal in 2000 or Newcastle United winning the FA … Continue reading What’s the point of being good at games?