Friday, March 27

These were truly haunting photographs

So this chap collected photographs which people cannot live with and want to throw away. And these were truly and seriously emotional. And I keep thinking about what could have been the reason behind this? Here is the full list, but below are the ones which really touched me.


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you think deeply about what could have made you so upset…and somehow you can project yourself in them…

Thursday, March 26

Book Review: The Panama Hat Trail

In my experience, travel books have a built in advantage, the reader is already pre-disposed towards the destination so even crap books get a bit of a bye. But even adjusting for that factor and the fact that I am an idiot, sometimes a book comes along which is a sheer pleasure to read.

this book by Tom Miller, first published in 1986, takes you through a journey behind the Panama Hat which is made in Ecuador. He has a fascinating way of describing the country, the Indians, the regular moans about coffee, the issues with the traffic and bus travel, he describes the hat, Gosh, he describes the hat process. The man ends up in the depths of the forest to pluck the particular straw and then moves through entire supply chain from those depths of the forest down the history, geography, religion, culture, anthropology, economics of Ecuador to the showrooms in New York where these Panama Hats, now revalued hugely from the original price of literally cents to the farmers of the straw to the hundreds of dollars that a purchaser of a Montecristo Fini hat will pay. Some of these straw hats are so finely woven that they can hold water.

Amazing book. I learnt so much about the country. Like India, it also lost huge swathes of territory and does stupid nationalistic things like map controls (you cant show the land that Ecuador lost in the war with Peru). And I now have to go check out the bookstores in Quito, found out there are two there which stock English language books besides the usual fiction pap. And the man has a sense of deprecating humour which is lovely and refreshing. Loved it.

And it doesn't talk about Galapagos at all. So as a very respected member of the travel book species, it comes very highly recommended. One of the best books that I have read. So much that I recommended it to my son, whose response was a gratifying “ummm, ok”

Wednesday, March 25

Lessons learnt for teaching

Well, these were beautiful lessons to learn, and yes, I have ordered the book. Now that I am also teaching school children as part of the STEM Ambassadorship, its vital for me to make sure that every minute I have with them is lighting the fire. This was really really interesting. I started to apply this to my junior talent pool members who I run a training course every 2 weeks.

So few lessons learnt for this teacher.

  • Bring everybody with you, not just the first person to raise their hands. wait till everybody else has had a think about it.
  • move around the room. This is what I hate, when I am lecturing or teaching, and i have to be stuck out there in the front. Moving around is fun and allows you to engage everybody.
  • Teaching can be taught, and you can learn even now when you're my advanced age…
  • and yes, teaching isn't just imparting lessons, its a performance art.
  • explain to the students what you are trying to do and how you are trying to help them.
  • road to mastery leads through hard work, you have to push myself.

the article talks about TeachFirst, something that I am involved with heavily, its a great initiative..Also look at this letter we got, isn't that nice?

Letter from the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP
The Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, recently joined STEM Ambassadors to launch British Science Week at a school in Kent.
The Minister participated in the activities and commended the STEM Ambassadors attending. Following the event the Minister expressed his desire to thank all STEM Ambassadors for volunteering their time.
The Minister’s letter follows below.
Kind regards,
Kirsten Bodley, CEO STEMNET




Dear STEM Ambassador,
I want to thank you for volunteering your time and energy to support the STEM Ambassadors programme and inspiring young people to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
I was fortunate enough, on the first day of British Science Week, to see some of you in action at a school in my constituency. I met more of you on my recent visit to the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. I was pleased to see the diverse range of sectors and professions that the STEM Ambassadors represent and highly impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of those of you I met.
During my recent visits I joined STEM Ambassadors and a group of Year 8s on several activities involving glow sticks and a 3D printer, and could see the enthusiasm these hands-on activities inspired. I know that all year round STEM Ambassadors plan and present exciting activities like these, which are an important part of the educational and inspirational process. 
You’ll know how important the STEM workforce is to the country’s current and future economic growth. And to remain a world leader in research and technology we need a future generation that is passionate about, and skilled in, STEM. That is why the Government funds activities like the STEM Ambassadors Programme and British Science Week. 
I am delighted that the STEM Ambassadors Programme is approaching an important milestone of almost 30,000 volunteers. I’m encouraged that 40% of these are women, inspiring both girls and boys to consider STEM careers. 
I have been extremely impressed with what I’ve seen and heard during my recent visits and want to extend my thanks to all of you for your continued support for the STEM Ambassadors Programme, and your commitment to inspiring future generations.
We couldn’t do it without you, thank you.

Tuesday, March 24

Parental Housework and Children’s housework

Quite a fascinating correlation here, eh?

This paper analyzes the relationship between parents’ time devoted to housework and the time devoted to housework by their children. Using data of Germany and Spain from the Multinational Time Use Study, we find positive correlations, but gender differences, between parents and children’s housework time, which indicates that the more time parents devote to housework the more time their children devote to housework. While in Germany both fathers and mothers’ housework is positively related with the time devoted to housework by the children, in Spain it is only father’s time in housework that is positively related to children’s housework time. Thus, we find a different relationship between parents and children’s housework time in Mediterranean countries compared to other European countries. We also obtain that these results are not applicable to all sub-groups of population, as our analysis considering the labor force status and education of the parents yield mixed results.

Bit of a mixed result, but broadly, if I had to draw some inferences, ensure both parents work at housework and make sure both kids work. A bit of child labour goes a long way…

Monday, March 23

Does giving a laptop to a child help?

Well, unfortunately to the aficionados of giving laptops and ipads to kids, it doesn't seem to make a whit of difference as all the kids did was to use it to search for information on the internet. No change to the mathematics skills or on the reading levels. Go figure. When will people go back to basics, hire the best teachers possible, remunerate them on performance, support them well, bring in parents into the education process and make it fun to teach. All this poking around with technology detracts from the basics. Read and weep, think about the sheer amount of resources wasted on this boondongle.

We present evidence on the impact on students´ math and reading scores of one of the largest deployments of an OLPC program and the only one implemented at a national scale: Plan Ceibal in Uruguay. We have unique data that allow us to know the exact date of laptop delivery for every student in the sample. This gives us the ability to use days of exposure as a treatment intensity measure. Given that there is some variation in the date of laptop delivery across individuals within the same school, we can identify the effect of the program net of potential heterogeneity in the rate schools gain improvements on students´ achievement over time independently of the OLPC program. Our results suggest that in the first two years of its implementation the program had no effects on math and reading scores. The absence of effect could be explained by the fact that the program did not involve compulsory teacher training and that laptops in class were mainly used to search for information on the internet.