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Updated: 11 min 44 sec ago

Have big university lectures gone out of fashion?

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 11:06
No longer can students sit passively and imbibe information today's 'blended learning' approach demands engagement and ideas

The best lecture I ever went to saw an inspirational academic Professor David Ian Rabey; credit where credit's due cracking an egg over his own head. A roomful of undergraduates watched, fascinated and aghast, as the yolky glop slid down his face and dripped on the floor. He carried on talking (about King Lear as it happens), and we listened like we'd never listened before. I've never forgotten it.

But most lectures, let's face it, aren't so compelling. And the model of the "sage on the stage" is now seen as somewhat outmoded or at least, as only one way, and not always the best, of teaching students.

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I confused my numbers in Spanish and misreported a death toll

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 08:00
As a rookie reporter in Mexico, Jo Griffin was tripped up by the numbers on a big story. Why are numbers so hard to grasp?

A degree in Spanish got me my first job as a journalist, with an international press agency in Mexico City, but it didn't prevent me blundering badly as a rookie reporter.

I had just arrived in the Mexican capital after a Greyhound bus journey all the way from New York, and the job interview was a test of my language skills. In my new role, day shifts were spent on the streets in political rallies and nights were spent alone in the office, co-ordinating the coverage from strife-torn El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and the rest of Central America. But I also had to report on occasional disasters: fires, floods and explosions at firework factories.

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School kitchens 'need improving' to provide free meals

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 07:37
One in three schools will need to refurbish catering facilities to provide free food for infants, according to latest figures

More than 2,700 schools about one in three assessed so far will have to improve their kitchen facilities if they are to provide free meals for infant schoolchildren, figures revealed.

Some require a complete refurbishment, while others need little more than a dishwasher or microwave to give all infant school pupils a free meal from September, a policy announced by the Liberal Democrats said last year.

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Pupil protests teaching children to campaign

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 07:25
Year eight pupils at an east London free school are learning that they can speak out and make a difference

A girl in year 8 is kneeling on the ground, head bowed, in an orange jumpsuit the uniform of British Guantánamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer. Fellow pupils surround her, in the grounds of an east London church, calling out to convey Aamer's story to passersby. "In 2001, Shaker Aamer went to Afghanistan to work for an Islamic charity" one student begins. "He has four children; he's never met the youngest."

"I keep hoping, waiting for justice to be done for my husband and my children," bellows another, echoing the words of Aamer's wife, Zin. Aamer, from Battersea, has been held in Guantánamo Bay since 2002 on suspicion of links to al-Qaida.

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School funding where's the will to tackle this unfair system? | Fiona Millar

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 07:15
The long-trailed plan for a national formula has once again been kicked into the long grass, says Fiona Millar

In recent months I have started to think that I am becoming unshockable. The simmering anger triggered by the early days of the coalition has faded. I even managed to spend 90 minutes in a studio with free school founder Toby Young recently only to emerge having found points of agreement. What's left is just a grim realisation that many predictions have inevitably come to pass and an even grimmer determination to keep on making the case for alternatives in the absence of any realistic political alternative.

But that equanimity was rudely interrupted last week with a report that £45m is being spent on a super-selective post-16 free school catering to a few hundred students in central London.

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Trap doors the answer for people moving seats at the theatre? | Marc Abrahams

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 07:05
Feel embarrassed if you need to leave during a performance? If only the ground would open up and swallow you

Next time someone disrupts your evening by clambering in or out of a nearby theatre seat, remember: it needn't be this way.

In 1924, Louis J Duprey of Dorchester, Massachusetts, patented a system that "permits any patron of the theatre to enter or leave his place without at all disturbing other patrons". You, the patron, entered vertically, though a trap door, already ensconced on a chair. When you wanted to leave, a discreet twist of a knob activated the machinery in reverse, causing the chair, and you, to quietly sink back down, and out.

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Tribal school inspectors face special measures | Warwick Mansell

Tue, 08/04/2014 - 06:55
Private firm warns staff may have to pay for school re-inspections; Ofsted slow to act over claims of restraint; and campaigners lose bid to save primary from demolition

Inspectors working for one of England's three privately run school-inspection firms have been warned that if Ofsted finds any problems with the quality of their reports and therefore orders a re-inspection, they may end up paying for it out of their own pockets. This was perhaps the most extraordinary line in a letter to inspectors from outsourcing firm Tribal, which runs inspections across the south-east of England, published by blogger John Bald.

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Comfort break | Ros Asquith

Mon, 07/04/2014 - 18:00
Still working even in the holidays Continue reading...

Take tablet computers off children at bedtime, says teachers' leader

Mon, 07/04/2014 - 17:20
Union to debate teachers' concerns about 'tablet addiction' among school pupils at the ATL conference in Manchester

Parents should consider taking tablet computers off their children to ensure they get a good night's sleep and are ready for school, it has been suggested.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said that mothers and fathers need to monitor their youngsters' use of the gadgets, amid fears that children are spending hours, and staying up late into the night, playing on them.

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