Here’s a copy of my article written for a newsletter:
Are you switched off? This sounds like a daft question, what with the mountains of mobile phones and other gadgetry that surrounds us. “Of course not!” I hear you say. Yet how much do we allow these devices to dictate how we invest our time?
Having worked in IT and Education, I have seen both benefits and drawbacks of ‘instant communication’. People, especially youngsters; can struggle to understand that what is said in ‘the virtual world’ can cause untold misery on others in the real world. It’s true that the spoken word alone can cause misery, though technology increases its occurrence and intensity. I have also seen the immense number of hours that some spend playing on addictive games. By nature, we love challenges – provided they’re not too easy or not too difficult. Games offer challenge, and instant communication can be fun, yet I wonder if you’ve thought about the impact of prolonged use?
I’m sure you’ll agree that we should not spend long periods of time engaged in computer games, mobile phones and online social networking at the vast expense of getting a great education and benefiting from real social interaction. This is partly why I’m involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Through real-life challenges, The Award requires participants to develop skills through social interaction. I know of former students who are now at high-ranking institutes to continue their studies – partly as a result of achieving The Duke of Edinburgh Award.
For years; it has been known that a good understanding of literacy, numeracy as well as fundamental ICT skills significantly help to bring about great opportunities. This is partly backed up by a recent news story from the BBC, stating “People who were good at maths as young children go on to earn more than other similar children by the time they are 30.”1. So why not spend the time reading or brushing up on numeracy skills? This can be incredibly rewarding both in terms of short-term personal achievement and longer-term employment prospects.
Children will imitate what adults do. An adult seen to be reading, and taking an interest in numbers; perhaps by doing a family budget, can go a long way towards helping children to build a solid foundation in learning from words and using numbers. Even adults who’d like to improve; there are BBC “Skillswise” online courses available.
For those who are into their electronic ‘apps’, a quick search will reveal many apps designed to teach numeracy and language skills. These are a great engaging way to improve skills.
I encourage all parents to challenge their children about their use of technology, and to act according to how it is being used. For a real challenge, why not have rules in the house about everyone finishing homework and chores before anyone is allowed to use technology for entertainment?!
Sue Fitzgerald, a careers advisor, states that in today’s competitive climate: “although qualifications are important, they are not enough.” Today’s students need to master both fundamental literacy and numeracy skills as well as showing they can be self-motivated and complete some further activity for themselves. If students spend significant time playing on their mobiles and computers for no particular gain, they may well find themselves closing off future opportunities.
So, switch off the gadgets and switch on the mind! Reflect on how you can take control over what you and your children use them for and for how long. Then you will be truly switched on!
The expedition season typically starts at the end March through to October. Quinton’s expedition was a couple of weeks early, and given the cold spell we were experiencing, it was indeed a very cold, muddy and snowy weekend indeed! Still, I was very impressed and pleased to assess three groups. (Cold Ashby > Sibbertoft > Kelmarsh, Northants)
This photograph was taken on an old mobile phone near East Farndon.
These are both amazing places to go – especially for Chinese New Year in Hong Kong!
There’s lots to write about but not enough time to do so at the moment.
What to do in HK in 2,5 days if you’re active all day: Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery (Sha Tin), Avenue of Stars (for the views), Star Ferry, The Peak Tram, Rapport Bay & Deep Cove Bay, Llama Island (evening ferry and food), Kowloon Park, Temple Street Market.
Experiences in China: Food! Parks, Asian Games Stadium, Baiyun Mountain Park, lakes, architecture, wedding banquets in village & posh hotel, river by night.
OK, not a great photo…I was too busy being ‘Best Man’ for most of the day. The “official” photos were left to the pro.
Fortunately all went smoothly, particularly the Best Man’s Speech! Thank you Daniel – I did “borrow” one piece of inspiration from you!
All ended up going smoothly for the couple’s Big Day!
Finding the right travel insurance policy can be tedious. Travel companies tend to have excessive prices whilst cheap quotes from comparison web sites leave you asking the question “is this cover adequate?”. Phrases from comparison web sites including ‘lite’, ‘economy’ and ‘cheaper’ suggest that the level of cover may not be as it should.
The answer is simple. Head over to Martin Lewsis’ web site: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/insurance/cheap-travel-insurance where all is explained. If only I looked at this web site first! Another site suggests making sure that you also include legal cover: http://www.moneymagpie.com/article/travel-insurance.
I’ve often thought about methods for encoding text between web browser input form (or even Flash/AJAX) through to PHP and then a MySQL database and back again (also avoiding injection attacks). I really should have taken better note of UTF encoding: