Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TEACHERS: Email your actual working hours to the Education Minister

My friend Tor has started up a rather marvellous Facebook group encouraging we teachers to all email Michael Gove to let him know how much time we put into our jobs outside of our normal teaching load.

Gove announced a few days ago that he wants to lengthen the school day, open schools on Saturdays, and reduce the school holidays.  He has bizarrely (and patronisingly) suggested that teachers would welcome the increased workload:
“If you love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well.”
I do actually quite like my job most of the time, but there's only so much being-in-charge-of-twenty-plus-children I can actually physically and mentally cope with.  The two main reasons I became part time were:

  1. I wanted to achieve other things for my own personal satisfaction and not just spend all my time being a teacher.
  2. I was exhausted all of the time when I used to be full time and it made me hate my job.

The real effect of these proposed changes, of course, would be to demoralise and tire teachers out even more, making many of them worse at their jobs, and put more pressure on students to achieve ever increasing numbers of qualifications.

Schools would be under more pressure to achieve and maintain their league table positions, exacerbating the culture we already have of teaching children to pass more and more exams at ever increasing rates without ever actually educating them.

So obviously I think "The Reality of a Teacher's Day" group is a super idea.  If you know any teachers please do let them know about it.  If you're a teacher yourself then start submitting those timesheets!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

PayPal (Might Not Have) Ordered Destruction Of Antique Violin

Violin destroyed by a buyer at the insistence of PayPal
[Edit] There are now suggestions that this situation is not so clear cut.  But to be honest PayPal have hardly covered themselves in glory for a long time over issues such as these.

PayPal seem to be on a mission to set themselves up as the most cold-hearted, evil organisation in the universe.

Imagine you own an antique violin predating the Second World War.  Imagine you then sell this item for $2500 and receive payment via PayPal.

Now imagine the buyer disputes the authenticity of the label, and demands a refund.

Now imagine that PayPal decide, with neither proof nor expertise, that the violin is counterfeit and that they will only refund the money to the buyer if he destroys the violin.

Leaving you $2500 and one antique violin out of pocket.

Why is there no alternative to these bastards?

[Edit] There are now suggestions that this situation is not so clear cut.  But to be honest PayPal have hardly covered themselves in glory for a long time over issues such as these.

[hat tip to @roryparle]

Monday, January 02, 2012

Christmas Movie Poster Quiz!

This year I spent Christmas Day with Laura's family.  Her dad suggested that we make up a quiz to send out to the various branches of the family around the world, and then Skype up with the results on Christmas Day.

So I decided to make a movies round, specifically recreating Christmas movie posters using myself, my (and sometimes Laura's) wardrobe, and Photoshop.  And also Laura.  Although the slightly disturbing thing is that I only had to use Laura for one of the eight movie posters.  Because the other seven only featured men.

Which reminds me of the Bechdel Test.  To pass it, a film has to feature two named female characters who have a conversation with each other about something that isn't men.

So, two things.

1) Can you work out which movie posters I've recreated?
2) Hollywood is sexist, but this is so normal that most of the time we don't even notice it.  Discuss.

No cheating!