Wanting Everything in an Instant

Some say we live in the age of “instant everything”. So, I was amused to see this BBC article exploring various claims that it was possible to keep fit in just a matter of a few minutes each week:

BBC Article – 3 Minute Fitness

After reading the article I was left wondering, even if the benefits of this programme can be proved, why would anyone choose this as the way to get/ be/ stay fit? To me, there are so many benefits of a physically active lifestyle that go way beyond the purely medical. Firstly, I think it actually ensures some balance in life and good personal discipline – making sure that the time for physical activity is carved out of an otherwise busy schedule. Secondly, being physically active over a period of time releases chemicals in the brain – chemicals which create a positive sense of well-being that stays with you long after the period of exercise. With frequent doses of endorphins I believe a person remains more positive, more able to focus on the important things and more oriented to plan for the future.

After exercise we can feel a certain bodily tiredness that can actually be conducive to mental concentration. As we seek to apply our mind, our body is continually itching to be up and about. Historically, man is not inherently sedentary and I think sometimes we need to work some of that energy off. I’m really not sure that HITs would achieve that.

Finally, physical exercise is very frequently a social activity as well as a physical one. However, I don’t see anything very sociable about HITs.

So, I might put a few bursts of high activity in to my existing workouts, but I don’t see me changing anything else as a result of this research!

The Holstee Manifesto

I read today about a New York fashion design house whose mission statement has been going viral on the internet. It’s quite thought provoking – check it out here;

The Holstee Manifesto

Fascinating Historical Perspectives on Sleep

I wanted to share this article as, not really very relevant to education, it’s nevertheless fascinating for the insights it gives regarding historical perspectives on sleep.

BBC Article – Sleep

So, if you are one of those people who wakes in the night for no explicable reason, you now know not to get anxious or worried about it. Now all we need to do is reduce the number of students taking their ‘second sleep’ in the classroom during the day time!

Advice on Implementing the Flipped Classroom

Here are some interesting thoughts from an Edutopia blog post that stress that the flipped model is not a panacea for all educational ills, but does have real value if implemented in the right way;

Edutopia Blog Post

Technology Empowering Exchange at Primary Education Level

From time to time I’ve come across articles extolling the virtues of ePals and other similar websites that enable students and whole classes to hook up online with classes of similar age students anywhere in the world. So, I really enjoyed coming across this article that gives a flavour of such an online exchange for Class 5 students in a school in North Carolina, US;

South Charlotte News Article – ePals

I can’t help hoping that over the next few years, as we give more and more children around the world the chance for genuine open exchange and communication with children in other parts of the world, there is the scope to reduce the amount of hatred, misunderstanding and prejudice – which can only be to the benefit of all.

What’s the Future for the Aakash?

Here’s a Fast Company article that came out a few weeks ago, suggesting that all is not well in the project to develop a super-cheap tablet computer for the masses;

Fast Company Article – Aakash

So, now we have two big questions that may only get answered over time;

  1. Will the project ever be able to ship significant enough numbers of the tablets at the proposed price point to really make a difference?
  2. If they do, will the Aaksh bring about any meaningful change in teaching and learning?

Understanding Water in the Environment

Here’s another Dan Pink reference, this time to a newly published book that explores the economics and environmental issues related to water:

Dan Pink on Charles Fishman’s new book, “The Big Thirst” about Water

I certainly can’t see any significant argument with the underlying conclusions – society cannot go on treating water as it has done during the last 30 years or so. There are going to have to be significant changes and the consequences of not changing are not to be contemplated. We can already see in India what happens when access to even subsistence levels of food are determined by financial status. If this was to become the case with water in all parts of the world the consequences would be potentially catastrophic.

The final thought was particularly interesting – saving electricity also saves water. I’m not quite sure how that gets reconciled by the fans of electric cars. I already have reservations that they simply shift pollution out of the inner-cities in to the areas surrounding power stations, potentially reducing people’s willingness to address issues of power usage.

Issues with Merit Pay for Teachers

As education administrators the world over conjecture about how to bring about meaningful change (i.e. improvement), one of the potential solutions that regularly comes up for debate is merit pay for teachers (balanced usually with the corresponding accountability and consequences for underperforming teachers).

So, it was interesting to read the thoughts and observations of Daniel Pink on the subject;

Daniel Pink Blog on Teacher Merit Pay

Ultimately, I have a lot of sympathy for his first argument that merit pay systems don’t work very well with complex and creative roles (including teaching). When we come to look at his proposed solutions and put them up against the Indian education system, there has to be a lot of temptation in the ideas of increasing the money right across the board for all teachers, whilst improving the ability to remove poor and weak teachers from the system.

Vote for Due North Project on sparktherise.com

The following is posted on behalf of Mr Sushil Ramola, former Director of the SRF Foundation. I urge you to please take out just a minute to give your vote. This can ensure this very worthwhile livelihood project gets critical funding to support its growth.

There are only 3 days left for voting, so i ask you please to cast yours and pass the message on to friends and colleagues:

A community-led project, DueNorth Ecoventures, that I am supporting fully since inception has been shortlisted as part of the Mahindra and Mahindra `Spark-the-Rise’ program.

Support from Mahindra and Mahindra is apparently dependent on the number of votes the project can garner. The team at the helm of DueNorth is passionate that we use all our strengths to spread the message amongst friends and well-wishers.

The process, will take a few minutes of your time. Please follow the links as detailed in the mail below. Also, the link will provide you with a pictoral presentation on the project and its present status.

Voting procedure for those who have Facebook account

1. PleaseCLICK http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetail.php?pid=5848
2. PleasePRESS the GREEN button on top right with “Vote” written on it.
3. A small pop up window will open with following Two options:

a. Sign Up Now b. Login And Vote Now

4. Please PRESS“Login And Vote Now” option. 5. A new page will open with Sign Up and Login options
6. PleasePRESS blue Connect with Facebookbutton on right
7. A new pop up window will open up, please ENTERyour Facebook username and passwords to complete the voting process.
8. Once you are done, please PRESS “Follow”button under Vote Button as well on the final page.

Voting procedure for those with no Facebook account

1. PleaseCLICK http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetail.php?pid=5848
2. PleasePRESS the GREEN button on top right with “Vote” written on it.
3. A small pop up window will open with following Two options:

a. Sign Up Now b. Login And Vote Now

4. Please PRESS“Sign Up Now” option.
5. A new page will open with Sign Up and Login options
6. PleaseENTER your details asked for under Register an account on Spark the option on left
7. An activation mail will be sent to your email id given at the time of registration.
8. PleaseCONFIRM your email id by CLICKING the requested link in the email sent to your id.
9. GO to the link http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetail.php?pid=5848 
10. Press Login to the website at the bottom next to Sign Up
11. Write your Username and Password on the page that opens
12. PRESSthe GREEN button on top right with “Vote” written on it
13. Once you are done, please PRESS“Follow” button under Vote Button as well on the final page.

Thank you for your help. If you like the project, please share the details given above on your blog or facebook account, with a request to vote for us. You may also send it to your contacts, as I am doing. The project is in number 5 position right now and need to be in the top 2.

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