Open Thinkering


Month: October 2010

Why we don’t celebrate Hallowe’en in our house

As a write this post we’ve got the lights off at the front of our house and, instead of being parked on the drive, our car is parked in a nearby street. Why? It’s Hallowe’en.

It’s not that we live in a rough neighbourhood and I’m scared of the kids. It’s that I:

  • can’t (as a historian/philosopher) see the point in it
  • don’t wish to celebrate evil, even implicitly
  • think that it’s 99% marketing-fuelled

Ten quick facts about Hallowe’en:

  1. It’s not a pagan festival.
  2. It was originally a couple of days of feasting without much religious or supernatural significance.
  3. Before the 8th century it was celebrated in May.
  4. It’s related to the enthusiastic ringing of bells by Catholics on All Souls Day to assist the passage of souls from purgatory.
  5. Hallowe’en traditions almost completely died out in England before the 20th century.
  6. Around this time, girls traditionally attempted to find out via various ‘signs’ – such as brushing their hair at midnight in front of a mirror – who they would marry.
  7. In 1950s England people either celebrated Guy Fawkes night or Hallowe’en, depending on geographic location.
  8. There was an ‘explosion of interest’ in Hallowe’en in the 1970s/80s and ‘trick or treating’ due to the influence of American TV series and films such as ET (1982) which depicted such scenes.
  9. Teachers have been accused of encouraging the spread of Hallowe’en celebrations to remove the focus on Guy Fawkes (‘Bonfire’) Night and associated safety concerns.
  10. Hallowe’en parties in England have been going since around the 1920s/30s and are now the busiest time of the year for fancy-dress hire shops.

The above were gleaned from a book I came across this weekend at Barter Books. I added photos of relevant pages to my Evernote account.

So, in conclusion, dressing up as something scary and begging is not something I’ll be encouraging my children to do when they’re old enough. Whilst I could open the door and lecture each group of children, the words ‘water’ and ‘off a duck’s back’ spring to mind. And, to be honest, I don’t want to be ‘that guy’.

The power of the media and invented tradition is, unfortunately, too powerful.

Things I Learned This Week – #44

SFW this week. Promise.

Offline this week I learned that exercise is a good preventer of illness, that charity workers and trick-or-treaters are glorified beggars, and that toddlers don’t get clocks going back to GMT. At all. :p

Continue reading “Things I Learned This Week – #44”

Weeknote #25

This week I have been mostly…

Reading mobile-related stuff

I’ve been reading some fantastic stuff this week, the highlights being the Proceedings of mLearn 2010 and Education in the Wild: contextual and location-based mobile learning in action. I shall be synthesizing them at On The Horizon next week and writing the draft of my JISC Mobile & Wireless Technologies Review the week after.

Playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2

I very rarely buy full-price video games but I was so impressed by the online, multiplayer Battlefield:1943 that when my brother-in-law and family came to visit this week I bought Battlefield: Bad Company 2 whilst it was on offer in the local supermarket. I’ve played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (albeit briefly) but prefer Bad Company 2 for some reason.

Demoing Google Apps for Education

JISC infoNet, for whom I work (via Northumbria University) is part of an umbrella organization called JISC Advance. The latter includes JISC’s Regional Support Centres, of which there are 13. One of these, RSC South West asked me to demo Google Apps for Education to IT managers as I’ve experience with it both in my previous position as Director of E-Learning at an Academy and in my current role within JISC Advance.

I decided to create a video for people to go back to. Here it is, for what it’s worth (bearing in mind someone else had already gone through the email and technical side of things…)


Thinking about emigrating

Previously, when it hasn’t been half-term, this week before the clocks go back to GMT has been the worst for me. It’s just so dark and depressing. I can guarantee that this time next year, in 2011, we’ll either be on holiday somewhere sunny or have moved abroad! :-p