Open Thinkering


Tag: photographs

Weeknote 22/2019

I don’t know why I don’t just book time off every half-term. Unlike the summer holidays, where the kids get into a rhythm of entertaining themselves, as a parent you always feel ‘on-call’ when they have just one week off school.

Thankfully, my wife was around, but I felt like my work was an inconvenience to family life this week. And, after all, why do we work? Part of it is to have the money to spend time with your family doing fun things. I don’t feel like I enjoyed the fruits of my labour this week.

There were good reasons why I didn’t book holidays this week, though. One of them was because it was Product Management Planning Week at Moodle. These have been a bit sporadic since their inception just after I joined the organisation at the start of last year. So it was good that I got to spend some time, albeit virtually, with fellow Product Managers.

In terms of MoodleNet, the product whose development I’m overseeing, this has been the second week for Karen and James, our new backend developers. They’re getting into the swing of things and it’s good to see so much conversation happening between them and Mayel, our Technical Architect, on team Telegram channels! I’ve also been spending some time with Ivan, our designer and front-end developer, about taking MoodleNet in a different direction in terms of user interface.

Back on the home fromt, my wife’s sister and family were up last weekend. They’re so much more chilled-out than our family, which tends to schedule all the things and treat everything as a competition. Sometimes you need a welcome encouragement just to relax.

Other than that, it’s been good to see support come in via Open Collective for We Are Open community projects like Badge Wiki. We’re planning to launch a forum soon for the discussion of badges, among other things. This will go under the umbrella of our ‘Learning Fractal’ sub-brand, which we’re currently using only for our newsletter.

Finally, I took the opportunity of some spare hours on Friday while my son was at trials for the Newcastle Eagles academy to go to the Laing Art Gallery. I’ve been trying to carve out time to see Chris Killip‘s photos of the decline of shipbuilding on the Tyne since reading about the exhibition in The Guardian earlier this year. The photos are amazing and the story is a sad but evocative one.

Next week, I’m getting back into the regime of taking Fridays as my non-Moodle day. I’ll miss having my week split in two, but on the other hand it should give me more scope to get up some mountains and get 20 Quality Mountain Days under my belt!

Meme machine

I’ve been tagged several times in the passion quilt meme going round the edublogosphere, so I’d better respond. Also, Matthew K. Tabor followed up his link on another recent meme with a very kind email about this site, so that’s prompted me to action. :p

First, the passion quilt meme. The idea is to post a photo that sums up what inspires me in education. It’s certainly not this. Don’t tell anyone this, but if it wasn’t for having a family to support, I’d teach for half the money I’m on now…

No, what inspires me in education is hard to define in a picture. It’s the positive energy surrounding thinking and grasping towards answers. It’s promoting self-reflection and learning-to-learn in young people. I’m going to cheat and post 3 images, all of which present aspects of what I’m trying to get at:

This image is rather aptly entitled Considering a Digital Future. I like the way that the boy seems to be lost in thought and looking away, even though there’s something massive that should be taking his attention in the background.

Too often in education we don’t allow young people time to reflect and think. I don’t think large class sizes are conducive to this, and it’s something perhaps somewhat beyond my control.

This picture is simply entitled Leadership. At 27, I’m fairly young – even in the eyes of students – and so can be a role model to them. I take this aspect of my job very seriously, although it presents itself in a slightly offbeat and quirky view of the world.

This might look like a bizarre inclusion. After all, I can’t surf and that’s certainly not a picture of me and my son Ben!

The reason I’ve included this one is because it symbolises the idea a ‘teachers as lifeguards’ that I’ve discussed before.


And now for the other meme. This one’s about readers finding out more about the blog author. Here goes:

1. What was I doing 10 years ago.

Erm… I was 17 and half-way through my ‘A’ Levels in Maths with Mechanics, Physics, English Literature and History. I dropped down to an ‘AS’ level in Maths as I found the ‘Pure Maths’ element very difficult. Taking 4 ‘A’ Levels was slightly unusual when 3 was the norm. To make up for the half an ‘A’ Level I dropped, I took General Studies ‘AS’ Level. It was the only subject for which I didn’t have timetabled lessons and the only subject in which I got an ‘A’! Of course, it didn’t help my Grandma dying on the morning of my European History exam… 🙁

2. Five things on my to-do list for today

I’ve actually done most of them! But they were (using Remember The Milk):

  1. Plan ‘How to attack a castle’ lesson for Year 7. (I look for resources in advance, but plan at the last minute to make sure I respond to learner’s needs and interests)
  2. Pick up Ben from nursery. (my wife, Hannah, works on a Wednesday and a Thursday. To make her life at school easier for her I take our son to nursery and pick him up – at least on a Wednesday)
  3. Hand in cover sheets. (I’m presenting at the Schools History Project Conference with Nick Dennis on using new technologies in History teaching – as we did last year. Also, I’m attending a standardisation meeting for the Edexcel AS-level History exam paper I mark. Consequently, I need time off school in the coming months…)
  4. Book ICT rooms. (the new ‘online’ booking system at school didn’t work properly. Hence, when I thought I was booked in for one lesson per week with both my Year 11 History classes using my new Y11 Revision wiki, I wasn’t!)
  5. Email my publishers. (Nick Dennis and I are working for a publishing company, producing interactive resources to go with their range of Key Stage 3 History textbooks)

3. Snacks I enjoy

Chocolate. Cheese. Things with peanut butter on them. Spicy stuff.

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire

Set a good example to other rich people by paying off my mortgage and then giving the rest away. And I mean that – you can hold me to it if I ever win big! (not that I gamble…)

5. Three of my bad habits

  1. Biting my nails. (I don’t consider this a ‘bad habit’ – but others, including my wife, do)
  2. Being overly sarcastic and dry with my humour.
  3. Spending too much time online. (again, it’s only others who tell me that it’s a bad habit of mine!)

6. Five places I have lived

Not very inspiring or exciting, I’m afraid – they’re all in England:

  1. Nottingham (it’s where I was born, despite neither of my parents being from there – a bit like Ben being born in Doncaster, really)
  2. Ashington, Northumberland (where I grew up, and once the largest ‘coal mining town’ in the world)
  3. Sheffield (where I went to university and met Hannah)
  4. Gateshead (whilst Hannah and I did our teacher training)
  5. Doncaster (where we live now)

7. Five jobs I’ve had

Erm. Do these count?

  1. Paper boy (when I was about 13/14 years old – didn’t exactly do wonders for my posture…)
  2. Assistant bookseller in Oxford (summer after my GCSEs)
  3. Sales assistant at HMV in Meadowhall, Sheffield (part-time whilst I was doing my BA in Philosophy)
  4. Bookseller at Waterstone’s in Newcastle (part-time whilst I was doing my MA in Modern History at Durham)
  5. Teacher of History and ICT (schools in Worksop and Doncaster since I was 23)

8. Five people I want to know more about

All of you! If you read this, consider yourself tagged – link back to this post please! 😀