Category Archives: Uncategorized

Code test for conference twitter feed


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Another test of the WpProQuiz plugin

PASS Leader test 1

becoming a PASS leader at the University of Brighton

PASS stands for Peer Assisted Study Sessions. PASS sessions are usually attached to an individual first year module.  A PASS session takes place on a regular basis (for example once a week). PASS sessions appear on the university timetable, but they are not taught by university staff like lectures, seminars or laboratory sessions.   PASS sessions are led by student leaders. If the module takes place in the first year, the PASS leaders are usually second or third year students who have taken (and passed) the module before. Lecturers and other university staff do not usually attend PASS sessions.  

You must specify a text.
You must specify a text.
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A weak conscience about today's strike

I dislike strike days. I don't like to admit to being on strike. I don't like to admit to not being on strike. I reason that I am actually very well paid by the standards of most people in the UK. I also recognise that many people in the university sector are not quite so fortunate, whether they be the admin staff, the porters, or those academic colleagues on short-term contracts or how are paid by the hour-- in some universities on zero hours contracts.

My first real encounter with strike action took place back in 2003 or 2004. Although not enthusiastic about the strike I agreed to man a picket line. Getting abused by an elderly man complaining about council tax was not a high point, but watching colleagues cross the picket line was a particularly difficult experience. If they actually opposed the strike action, I wouldn't have minded. However the colleagues were going in to teach classes as to not disrupt student learning, yet promising to tell the university that they had been on strike. A strike which does which has no effect on anything is hardly a strike.

Many academics will be on strike today doing research. They reason that research is their own private project and not the universities. I don't buy into this reasoning, but I can sort of see how this might justify getting a research day in when this wouldn't otherwise happen. Either way I remain I'm unconvinced that strikes in higher education actually make a difference in the longer term.

So what have I being doing today? Am I on strike?

I've read an academic paper.
I've helped the owner of a small business with setting up her website.
I've written this blog post.
I've attempted to write some other stuff, but feel a bit of block.
I had no meetings or classes timetabled for today, so I reason no one was inconvenienced by me staying at home.

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Mick Aston

I don't usually comment of the deaths of well known people, but I was saddened to learn of the death of "Time Team" archaeologist Mick Aston. Before he was known for Time Team he came to speak to my A-level History class on the excavation of Hailes Abbey. I never forgot that visit and was really impressed when he started appearing on TV.

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Coming out about my depression

I have been thinking of writing this post for some time. I’m still not convinced of the wisdom of writing it, but I have been suffering from depression for some time and been taking anti-depressants for the past year. Most of the time I am able to cope, but occasionally I enter periods of what I can only describe as deep darkness. Those who know me or follow my blog will know that that work has been difficult over the past couple of years. The closure of the subject centres, being re-interviewed for my job, and having my hours reduced have taken their toll, but my struggles with depression pre-date these events. I’ve told very few people about my struggles. I think I’m actually quite good at hiding my depression. The medication I am taking is actually for anxiety rather than depression – my doctor even said to me “I don’t think you’re depressed”.

I am fortunate to have a very loving wife and family as I go through this process. I am grateful for my job and enjoy my work. As far as I know I am performing well at work. I have been keeping very busy and am working on some interesting projects. I am fortunate to work with really nice people. I have a strong Christian faith. Working four days a week has enabled me to set up my open access research website and take on some freelance work, which has been very enjoyable. It all sounds very nice and it is, but as anyone who has suffered from depression knows none of these things guarantee good mental health, and many face depression without any help.

There seems to be a lot of talk about depression on the radio and TV at the moment. I’m not sure whether this is due to the recession, heightened awareness of the condition or whether it is just heightened awareness on my own part. I’m not sure what the consequences of ‘coming out’ will be, but I feel that it is time to stop hiding what I am going through.

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Mickey Mouse courses: Why we shouldn't judge a course by its title.

Today’s Daily Telegraph has an article under the headline “More pupils pushed on to 'Mickey Mouse' qualifications ”. Anxiety about league tables is leading schools to enter pupils for GCSE exams in less rigorous ‘Micky Mouse’ subjects rather than the more vigorous traditional disciplines. Schools have been found to be offering courses in cake decorating, warehouse work and stonewalling (I presume they mean making walls out of stone rather than obstructing their future work colleagues). One of the commenters on the article has noted that the actual percentages taking these courses are actually very small, but the raw numbers look quite large.

Firstly, I’ve never been comfortable with term “Mickey Mouse” course. The title of a qualification and the topic say nothing of the academic, intellectual or practical rigour involved in being successful in the course. There is no intrinsic reason why a course on dry stonewalling is less useful, valuable or intellectually challenging than a course in Ancient Greek.

Secondly, it is useful to remember that traditional disciplines were once, in modern parlance ‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects. In 1888 Professor Sealey, a historian at the University of Cambridge, suggested that the study of contemporary French literature could be as intellectually demanding as – shock horror— the study of Latin. It was 1907 before Oxford University offered a degree in modern languages. Perhaps in 100-years’ time the Telegraph journalists will see Media Studies as a traditional discipline.

Thirdly, and this is nub of argument, articles such as the one in today’s Telegraph, are based on the underlying assumption that all children need to be taught exactly the same curriculum and that any deviation from this ideal curriculum fails our children. Successive education secretaries of all political persuasions have sought to make sure that all pupils can meet some target or another; we only have to think about the recent debates about the amount of time pupils should spend doing Physical Education, and what sort of PE that should be. I don’t know how many hours per day or week pupils should be doing of different subjects but I am starting to suspect it exceeds the amount of time that they actually spend in school. I’ve never quite got the bottom to why, if all these targets are so important why academies and free schools are exempt from them. Both Michael Gove and his Labour predecessors acknowledge that different pupils need a different sort of education, albeit in a very perverse way.

Just as we mustn’t judge a book by its cover we shouldn’t judge a course by its title. For me, a course in putting up shelves or painting a room wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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Languages and related 2011 accepts and applications (UCAS)

Subject Applications Accepts
Y Combs of languages with arts/humanities Total 6824 7355
Y Combs of languages Total 1574 1597
Y Combs of social studies/bus/law with languages Total 1693 2531
Y Combs of phys/math science with arts/humanities/languages Total 1280 2484
Y Combs of science/engineering with arts/humanities/languages Total 6305 8433
R0 - European Langs,Lit & related: any area Total 5 55
R1 - French studies Total 776 688
R2 - German studies Total 271 292
R3 - Italian studies Total 58 65
R4 - Spanish studies Total 448 467
R5 - Portuguese studies Total 1 1
R6 - Scandinavian studies Total 16 14
R7 - Russian and East European studies Total 94 88
R8 - European studies Total 18 121
R9 - Others in European Langs,Lit and related Total 538 1052
RR - Combinations within European Langs,Lit and related Total 2170 1733
Z No preferred subject line Total 70 0
Total European Languages 4465 4576
T1 - Chinese studies Total 180 207
T2 - Japanese studies Total 398 192
T3 - South Asian studies Total 16 61
T4 - Other Asian studies Total 32 18
T5 - African studies Total 12 23
T6 - Modern Middle-Eastern studies Total 118 101
T7 - American studies Total 518 502
T9 - Others in non-European Langs & related Total 73 267
TT - Combinations within non-European Langs & related Total 29 63
Z No preferred subject line Total 835 0
Total non-European Languages 2211 1434
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