Monday, October 25, 2010

Love it!

What if there are no hypothetical questions?
(Heard on the radio; can't claim originality. Damn)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Higher Education Rip-Off

I know I go on a bit about our Universities, but they really do deserve it.
A colleague's daughter is in the third year of a Business Management degree. She has four hours on her timetable. Three on Monday, one on Tuesday. That's it. That's what she pays her fees for, that's why she has taken out the loan (to be repaid until hell freezes over), that's it. Four hours. Three former students came to see me this week. I asked how it was going. Lectures? Over 450 students packed into a lecture theatre designed for 50 fewer, a lecturer who emerged at the front at 5 past the hour and mumbled for the next 50 minutes. No microphone used. Nothing either heard nor understood. Seminars? Between 70 and 100 students in a seminar. Ridiculous. What kind of "interaction" is that? That is not a seminar; it is still a lecture. Every student I talk to has the same opinion of their University staff: they couldn't care less.
“A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students.”
John Ciardi

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The United Kingdom

This afternoon, I am going to teach a class of Chinese students all about what we might loosely call "Britain".
The individual nations are OK. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales. Ah but. Northern Ireland is a province and Wales is a principality. England and Scotland are nations though. With a monarch. The same monarch. A United Kingdom. Our Elizabeth II is, of course, Elizabeth I of Scotland. I know they will ask "What is the United Kingdom?" I'll stutter out England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Then they'll ask "...and the British Isles?" and I will chuck in The Irish Republic and probably the Isle of Man. But what about the Channel Islands? I think they are called Bailiwicks. Not sure. Part of the UK? Not sure. Back to the Isle of Man. Not sure. They'll ask what is the difference between Britain and Great Britain. Again, not sure. Does the UK include Northern Ireland? Not sure. How are the Channel Islands part of the EU? Not sure. How come they can be tax havens. Got me. Not sure.
I'm in for a great lesson where, ultimately, they will know exactly what I know. I know that I don't know.
Did Berwick ever make it up with Russia?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cheryl Loses It: Shock Horror

I normally rate Cheryl Cole. True, she is a bit of a professional Geordie, but relatively sweet and harmless. Then she loses all reason.
Two of her three choices for X-Factor were a joke. One couldn't sing and couldn't sing (tonsilitis) and another couldn't sing and couldn't sing (nerves). I can't recall their names. One will be eliminated in Week 1, the other in Week 2.
Gamu Nhengu. That's who should have gone into the last 12. I hope someone spots her and signs her quickish.