In the firing squad when the revolution comes

Archive for the category “Education”

Job Envy

It’s not often that I get envious of someone else’s job – but over the last month there’s been one man on TV whose life I could envy deeply. That man is Giles Clark, a tiger expert based at the Australia Zoo in Queensland. (Which is the one founded by Steve Irwin, which explains a lot)

He’s been the subject – well, the human subject, at least – of the BBC series “Tigers about the House”, where he raised two Sumatran tiger cubs by hand in his own house.

The Australia Zoo’s tigers are all fully acclimatised to having humans around – which allows them to go for walks with their keepers and so on, as well as lots of enrichment and stimulus that simply doesn’t happen in most zoos around the world. It’s been quite a spectacular thing to see – particularly the tigers leaping into their huge pool (tigers love to swim) with the cameras right there with them – and yeah, decidedly envious.

Additionally, because they’re so acclimatised to people, it means the Zoo can also offer “Up-close experiences” with the tigers (and other animals) for a fee. All the money made from those experiences – as well as photo-opportunities and the like – goes towards tiger conservation projects, and the series included Clark’s trips out to Sumatra to see those projects as well, and be involved with them.

I’m not a great fan of zoos in general – I don’t like seeing animals in cages, regardless of the size of those cages – but recognise that they now have a massive use in keeping certain species from extinction. But if there’s got to be zoos, I’d far rather they were like this, providing so much more than just “animals in enclosures”.

But yes, definitely envious of that kind of job. It’s one of the very few times where I look and think “If I’d could go back now and re-do secondary school etc., knowing what I do now, that’s the kind of work I’d aim for”

For information:

Attention To Detail

While filling in my postal vote last night, I noticed this on the paperwork…


The red dot is added by me, just to highlight the error.

But really, how can I be assured that my local authority is capable of anything efficient when they can’t even get things right on a bloody envelope?

Displaying Ignorance

In my current workplace, there are a couple of people who seem to be almost proud of their general ignorance – which drives me crackers.

I don’t care if you don’t know something – even if it’s something simple – but don’t wear it as a badge of pride, for fuck’s sake. We’re an IT company, you should know at least how to Google stuff and find out – rather than broadcasting round the office that you don’t know (as per one recent example) what a mouth ulcer is.

The only thing that drives me more mental is when these people – so happy to show that they don’t know shit – then feel the need to talk bollocks about something other people in the office are discussing, even though they so blatantly know fuck-all about it. It’s funny in a way (and sad in many more) when they start spouting stuff that (again) a simple Google or Wikipedia page will tell you is wrong.

I don’t get why anyone would want to broadcast how little they know about something/anything. Sure, I will always say “I don’t know”, when I don’t, but that is usually followed with ” but I’ll find out”.  I know, I’m an info-geek, I want to know about stuff, and I know lots about a whole range of useless shit. I know that, and accept it about myself.

I realise other people aren’t like that, and I get it. What I don’t get is why, if you don’t know something, you don’t look it up online – in an IT company, don’t forget – rather than making yourself look/sound like a total ballbag to everyone in the company.

Changing Qualifications

It’s been announced today that OfQual has announced the finalised changes to GCSEs from 2015, with first exams in 2017. The changes will initially be for English language, English literature, and Maths – others will be announced later.

The key changes are :

  • Grading by numbers 9-1 rather than by the current letters A*-G
  • No more modular courses, instead full exams taken at the end of two years
  • Controlled assessments (coursework done under exam conditions) will be scrapped for most subjects

I think most of these are good, but the one that makes my brain bleed is about the changes to grading. I don’t care about it being numbers or letters, but why change the order of them? Until now, for decades, A has been the highest mark. Why would it now change to 9? That’s just counter-intuitive. When you think of ‘the best’, it’s usually “Number One” to be the best, not “Number Nine”.

Employers are used to that grading system, with A being the best. Changing that round is – I suspect – likely to cause more confusion than any other part of this revamped assessment.


One of the better explanations I’ve seen for using apostrophes and abbreviations. (And I didn’t write this originally, honest)

How to use apostrophes

Maybe if it were taught like this in schools, people would remember it better.

Seeking Proofreaders

One of my favourite stories today is that of the Suffolk school that’s now hiring proofreaders to check for mistakes in teachers reports. Yes, really.

From the story…

Northgate High School said the role would include correcting “spelling mistakes, poor or missing punctuation, incorrect capitalisation” and improving “poor grammar”.

The role at the local authority school pays £14 an hour.

Headteacher David Hutton said the work indicates the “high level of professionalism” at the school.

Surely a better mark of the ‘high level of professionalism’ at the school would be to hire teachers who – you know – are capable of spelling correctly and using grammar properly in the first place? After all, if they’re making mistakes on the reports, I’d be pretty damn sure they were making the same mistakes in lessons…

Critical Reading

As has been observed many times over the years, I can be a really picky/pedantic bastard – particularly when it comes to spelling, punctuation, and literacy in general. And it’s true, I am all of those things.

Today I’ve been proof-reading a menu for the work Christmas Do  (of which more at some other point) – and with some of the errors, had to check the original menu.

So – would you still go to a place whose menu has spelling errors?  I realise that the typing and publication of the menu won’t have come direct from the chef, and will have been farmed out to someone on reception (or similar) – but really, if chefs / owners are so obsessed about control, wouldn’t that also extend to the menu, and how it represents the establishment ?

In this case, some of the spelling errors are pretty basic – Mascarpone , for example, is mis-spelled. In others, it’s the actual cooking techniques themselves, such as “Ballantine” instead of “Ballotine”. And I just find that a bit worrying – for if there’s that lack of attention to details in the menu, I can’t help but think there might be the same lack of attention when it comes to the food.

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