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On the train to somewhere… December 27, 2011

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Lifestyle, Science.
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So there I was on the train minding my business when a family came on. They were chatting obviously excited with Christmas so closed. I smiled to my self and continued reading my book.

“Don’t you know what a watt is?”, the mother’s voice pierced through my concentration. “It’s something to do with light…lightbulbs”

One of the boys was working on a sheet, “who discovered gravity,  Mummy?”

“Newton, but he didn’t ‘discover’ gravity he just used experiments to confirm his theory” The Dad’s voice was sure and quite. 

“”I hated physics in school. I just couldn’t get it”, said the Mother peevishly. She brought out her iPhone. “Especially optics. It was twenty years ago…”

The boy, who was sitting next to me, murmured confidently, “Well, I am going to be a scientist”

Hints from the wise: part 1 December 18, 2011

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Nuts and Bolts, Teaching.
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A lot of advise I am given seems irrelevant until it’s needed. Then I think “Oh yes, so-and so mentioned that!”

Below are short snippets of teaching advice I have received over the years.

Break time: I was in the staff-room making coffee or warming food (I really don’t recall). Bits of conversation drifted over my head. “The old Maths books are the best” said a voice.  I was about to zone out but the voice continued, “When I began teaching there were so many math topics I knew nothing about. I found an old textbook that really helped me.”  Wow I thought so it’s normal to be clueless. After that I stopped berating myself for not knowing everything.

University Lab: In first year I struggled with all things Chemistry when finally exasperated I said to the lecturer “I just can’t do Chemistry” 

“Of course you can” was her reply. There was no smile, no encouragement and no reassurance. Just an honest statement of fact. At the time I was irritated. In fourth year I was given 83% for a chemistry lab report. So she was right I can do Chemistry. Whenever I have a student that tells me something similar, ‘I just don’t get Physics’ or ‘I am so stupid at Math’ . I respond in the same emotionless tone “Of course you can”

Book: From the Narnia chronicles The Horse and His Boy  While in the conversation with the Grand vizier, Mr. Tumnus was asked how he liked Tashbaan the capital of Calormen. Later he told his friends, “I couldn’t just tell him I hated every stone of it!” And gave a more positive response.

Oh the times this tale has saved me.  I grit my teeth and bite my tongue before unburdening myself on people.  It is not always wise to be blunt.

Three cheers for Mr. Tumnus!

Re-learning the Basics December 14, 2011

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Books, Lifestyle, Science.
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I have been teaching for almost 18 months and teaching Math/Science is so different from studying in University. Honestly, I feel more like a science fact dispenser than a scientist. What I must do is get back the drive and enthusiasm for these subjects.

I’ve decided to take this out-of-work period to study various topics.

Off to my local library I went, which is a block away (I do love that place). It\s fairly small but a considerable amount of  resources are available. I brought home two books

  • Astronomy: a self-teaching guide (7th Ed) by Dinah L moche
  • A complete GCSE Mathematics (3rd Ed) by A. Greer

I will be posting updates of my progress. Watch this space!

Reject! December 13, 2011

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Lifestyle, Nuts and Bolts.
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Sometimes things happen that can shake even confident people.

Today I want to discuss rejection.  I have had a few of them this year and am quite low about it. Mainly looking for employment.

What are you stories?

Sorry if this seems random